MR 401 - Bioethics

Module Level


Related Department


Time Allowance

Lectures: 15 hours, Assignment: 10 hours, Private study: 24 hours



Module Aims

An early definition states that Bio-ethics is the  "critical examination of the moral dimensions of decision-making in health-related contexts and in contexts involving the biological sciences”. (S. Gorovitz) This module explores the intersection between between scientific fields concerning life, medicine, biology, environment etc (Bio-ethics), the study of human moral conduct (Bio-ethics) and the Catholic Moral Tradition.

Indicative Syllabus 

  1. Models of Nature, Technology and Medicine
  2. Ethical Theories as they apply to the field of Health Care  
  3. Conscience and Moral Decision Making
  4. Key principles in bioethics and healthcare ethics: autonomy, beneficence, dignity. 
  5. Current trends in healthcare: resource allocation, legal developments, cultural changes, codes of behaviour 
  6. Contemporary Topical Issues.  

Learning Outcomes

  • Evaluate and display a critical awareness of current trends and issues in contemporary healthcare, clinical practice and bioethical research
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of a range of ethical theories and principles operating in the field of Health Care
  • Apply and appraise various frameworks for dealing with ethical problems, challenges and dilemmas in health care
  • Consider the resources proposed by spiritual practices and religious traditions, especially the Catholic tradition.


  • Arbuckle, G.A. Healthcare Ministry: Refounding the Ministry in Tumultuous Times. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2000.
  • Ashley, Benedict M & O’Rourke, Kevin D., Health Care Ethics: A Theological Analysis, Catholic Health Association of US, 1997 [241.642 ASH]
  • Meilaender, Gilbert. Neither Beast nor God: The Dignity of the Human Persons. New York & London: New Atlantis Books: 2009.
  • Messer, Neil. Theological Issues in Bioethics: An Introduction with Readings. London: DLT, 2002.
  • O’Rourke, Kevin D and Phillip Boyle. Medical Ethics: Sources of Catholic Teachings. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1993. [MAIN 21.642 ORO ]
  • Shannon, Thomas A., An Introduction to Bioethics, (3rd Edn) [MAIN 174.2 SHA]
  • Sutton, Agneta. Christian Bioethics: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: T&T Clark, 2008.
  • Walter, James J & Shannon, Thomas A. Contemporary Issues in Bioethics: A Catholic Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005.


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