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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

IDEA3312 Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life

15 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Robbie Arrell

Taught: 1 Nov to 31 Jan View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

IDEA3302 Consequences, Killing, and the Value of Life

This module is not approved as a discovery module


This modules aims to provide philosophical basis for critically examining the moral issues at the beginning of life, considering background theory as well as more specific issues such as:

- Theoretical issues such as: the value of life; moral personhood; the right to life, and rights conflicts; the non-identity problem; potentiality arguments
- Applied issues such as: abortion; prenatal screening; embryo research; reproduction; fertility; contraception

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

- Display understanding of a number of key philosophical texts relating to beginning of life issues;
- Explain and evaluate competing approaches to central concepts in debates around beginning of life issues;
- Explain and evaluate arguments put forward in debates about beginning of life issues, and relate them to key theoretical positions.


We will consider a range of topics in the area, including for example:
- The value of life
- The right to life
- Moral personhood, including the moral status of human foetuses/embryos/gametes etc.
- Abortion and pre-natal screening
- Potentiality
- Reproductive rights, fertility treatment and reproductive technologies
- Embryo and stem cell research

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
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. Preparation of answers to set coursework assignment questions. Independent reading and research for the preparation of assessed essay(s).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Essay plan (300 words); Gobbet plans (2x 100 words).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignmentx2 500 word Gobbets40.00
Essay2000 words60.00
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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