Available as a minor only.

Bioethics aims to develop ethical thinking about the latest developments in healthcare and biomedical technology, anticipating future developments, and assessing what should be done if and when these developments become a reality. It is concerned with controversial topics that have profound implications for the future of humanity and society. It is a general interest field of study that is relevant and important to everyone.

Handbook entry: Bioethics

Download PDF: Bioethics

What is Bioethics?

Bioethics is the study of the ethical issues raised by biological and medical science and technology and questions of life and death as they arise in the context of healthcare.

Philosophy, science, sociology, history, economics, law, and other disciplines combine in the study of bioethics in the attempt to answer questions such as:

  • Is there anything wrong with human cloning?
  • What are the social and political implications of genetic technologies?
  • Is enhancement of humans ethically acceptable – and perhaps even required?
  • Is it unethical for parents using IVF to choose the sex of their offspring?
  • Is human embryonic stem cell research justified by the prospect it offers of alleviating some of the most debilitating diseases?
  • Should people be allowed to buy and sell human tissues – such as sperm, eggs or kidneys?
  • Is the restriction of individual liberties entailed by quarantine justified by the protection of public health in the context of epidemic disease?

Student testimonal

“Studying bioethics has enabled me to hone my skills in analytic philosophy whilst exploring ethical issues raised by recent and potential advances in medicine and biotechnology. Bioethics has provided me with opportunities to combine my interest in philosophy with other engaging areas of study in the humanities and sciences. It is very satisfying to work in a field that has such broad and practical relevance to contemporary moral questions, and is able to challenge and shape how we think about them.”

- Julian Koplin, graduate

Exciting career prospects

The completion of a bioethics minor is especially valuable if you’re planning a career in life sciences, healthcare, or law and public policy.

You may also want to explore careers specifically in bioethics, such as:

  • clinical and research ethics at hospitals or other healthcare/research institutions
  • roles with non-government organisations or advocacy groups
  • science policy
  • education.

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