Intercalated BSc in Bioethics
The Centre for Ethics in Medicine offers a one-year intercalated BSc (Hons.) in Bioethics to students of Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Sciences. This was amongst the first few such courses to be offered by a UK University, and has been running successfully since 1998. The course is aimed primarily at current undergraduate students, who must usually have completed at least two years of study on their current programme.
Programme in Overview
The course aims to acquaint students with major trends and theories in bioethics, exploring ethical and legal issues arising out of the life sciences (including medicine, dentistry and veterinary science). The course will not only ground you in the relevant terminology and concepts, it will also enhance your abilities in thinking through the issues for yourself. The course involves the acquisition and use of skills in bioethical, philosophical and legal research and argumentation, which students may not yet have had any experience of employing. The tutors make every effort to support students from the start of the programme, so that they can get the most from their studies. There are various introductory sessions and advisory arrangements in place, and extensive feedback is provided on practice work, to enable students to achieve their best. Teaching is primarily through small-group seminars and assessment largely takes the form of written coursework.
During the course, students study a range of topics and approaches in medical ethics and law, and have the opportunity to participate in a student-led conference. Our graduates have not only gone on to develop and apply their learning in professional practice, including as members of ethics committees, but have also contributed to scholarship in the field, for example in books and articles.
Bioethics is a broad discipline, and as such we welcome applications from students from a range of backgrounds, including those currently studying veterinary and dentistry programmes.
Find out more about intercalated degrees at Bristol and how to apply.
Units of Study
There are five units of study on the programme, each 20 credits, with the exception of the dissertation, which is 40 credits. The units are:
Introduction to Bioethics: Provides an introduction to the whole field of bioethics, covering key theories and debates, by reference to selected ethical issues in medicine and science, and key skills in researching, and arguing and writing in bioethics. The unit is led by the Centre for Ethics in Medicine and is primarily taught via seminars and assessed via a written essay.
Introduction to Medical Law: Provides a basic grounding in medical law, introducing legal studies and key themes and issues in medical law, as well as exploring the interface of medical law and bioethics. The unit is led by the Centre for Ethics in Medicine and is primarily taught via seminars and assessed via a written essay.
Medicine and Law: Explores the general principles of medical law and allows for a detailed study of specific topics within the field. The unit is led by the Law School and is primarily taught via lectures and tutorials, and assessed via written assignments.
Ethics: Examines issues in normative ethics, metaethics, practical ethics, and/or the history of ethics. The unit is led by the Department of Philosophy is primarily taught via lectures and tutorials, and assessed via a written examination.
Dissertation: Provides the opportunity to pursue self-selected, independent research work in bioethics. Students also have the opportunity to run a conference, in which guest speakers feature and students’ dissertation topics can be presented. The unit is led by the Centre for Ethics in Medicine and is primarily taught via seminars and one-to-one supervision, and assessed via a written dissertation.
Examples of Past Dissertations
The programme encourages student-directed study and, in the dissertation, provides the opportunity for students (under supervision) to research topics and issues of particular interest to them. Examples of past student dissertations include:
- Animal Ethics: A Defence for the Vegetarian Vivisectionist
- Do the Dependent Elderly have a Duty to Die?
- Legalisation of Kidney Sales from Living Donors: A Realistic and Morally Acceptable Solution to the Critical Organ Shortage?
- Medical Students Should Take Part in “Medical Commitment Ceremonies”
- Rational Suicide is Morally Permissible
- Should Doctors Receive Preferential Treatment in the NHS?
- Whose Life to Save? Rationing and Justice in the NHS
- Widening Access to Assisted Reproductive Technologies: An Appeal to Rights