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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

IDEA3304 Conscience, Codes and Professional Issues

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Natasha McKeever

Taught: 1 Feb to 30 Apr View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module


Following two modules examining in some detail issues arising in healthcare at the beginnings and endings of lives, the aim of this module is to introduce you to a range of ethical issues that arise more pervasively throughout medical/nursing practice. Thus the module will examine some general issues concerning the carer/patient relationship, in particular the demands for truth-telling, trust, confidentiality, and consent in medicine. What philosophical arguments underlie these demands, and what exactly is their stringency? We will also consider certain general considerations that bear on the professional’s ethical decision making, in particular the role of ethical codes and the justification, if there is one, for professionals to appeal to conscience in objecting to undertaking certain practices in healthcare.

The module also involves group work on a topic chosen from those within those mentioned above, or from other topics associated with these general strands, for example, topics such as Whistleblowing, loyalty and supererogation, that are connected to the second strand of issues; and considerations of virtues specific to healthcare/medicine or that manifest themselves in specific ways in this area of practice in connection with the first strand of issues. One aim of the group work here is to reflect the way in which healthcare practice will often involve teams of professionals (often together with patients) seeking to arrive at a common position on practical ethical problems.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:

- Display understanding of a number of key philosophical texts and traditions relating to professional issues in health care;
- Display understanding of ethical rationales underlying current approaches to central concepts in health care ethics;
- Explain and evaluate arguments put forward in debates about professional issues in the context of health care, and relate them to key theoretical positions.


Topics such as:
Nature of medical professional ideals and traditions; virtues, obligations and responsibilities of doctors to each other, to patients, to society at large; conscience and collusion; loyalty and whistle-blowing; codes - how and why they have changed; honesty, openness and their relation to trust; confidentiality - how strictly to be upheld; individual and shared responsibility.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group Project42.008.00
Private study hours134.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Detailed study of required readings plus advance preparation of discussion questions for seminars. Independent reading and research for the preparation of assessed essay(s). Reading and independent group work for the preparation of group presentation.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Essay Plan (300 words); practice presentation sessions with tutor feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral PresentationGroup oral presentation25.00
Essay2,000 words75.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 07/02/2024 11:40:27


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