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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2014 - 2015

Module Title
Module Code

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This module provides a comprehensive overview of the field of health care ethics. The nature of health care and the ethical dimension of health care practice will be examined; as will key concepts which are said to underpin clinical practice in medicine, nursing and allied disciplines.The idea of moral perception will be explored. Ethical problems, disagreements, dilemmas, judgements and decisions rooted in the health care context and in the practices of health care professionals, will be analysed and explored from the perspective of three theories of ethics: deontology, utilitarianism and virtue theory. Principle-based frameworks of ethical decision making will be applied to specific case examples, potential moral disagreements drawn out and solution options critically evaluated.

Learning Outcomes

1. Provide a critical analysis of the nature and moral relevance of health care practice.
2. Apply key skills of philosophical analysis and ethical reasoning to the context and practice of health care.
3. Critically reflect on the fact and nature of moral disagreement and on the skills required work through such disagreement effectively. within the clinical context
4. Display a critical awareness of contemporary health care ethics issues.
5. Identify, apply and critically evaluate principle-based approaches to ethical decision making.
6. Provide leadership in reflecting upon and scrutinising specific ethical challenges arising from particular areas of health care practice.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture21No Description
Group work3In-class group exercises and discussion
Assignment Completion21Preparation for written papers
Directed learning15Specific readings and exercises
Independent Study190Weekly readings and assignments
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Developing an ethical perspective; sensitivity to the ethical domain of health care practice
An examination of the moral domain of health care practice - both clinical practice and public health practice; including an exploration of models of the practitioner-patient relationship.

The concept of care
An analysis of the concept of care in health care practice and an exploration of the implications of such analysis for practice.

Description and evaluation of different ethical perspectives

Ethical theories
Overview of Deontology, Utilitarianism, Care Ethics and Virtue theory and exploration of their relevance and use in the context of health care and health care practice.

Principle-based ethical decision-making frameworks
Examination and applicationn of principle-based ethical decision-making approaches.

Informed consent
A critical analysis of the meaning of informed consent and factors necessary to support the exercise of informed consent in a variety of health care contexts from public health to personal medicine.

Technology in health care
Issues based analysis and discussion of the use, impact and implication of technology in health care.

Resource allocation, rationing and futility
An analysis and application of the concepts of resource allocation, rationing and futile treatment

Ethical issues in reproductive medicine and health care
Description and evaluation of different ethical perspectives

Ethical issues at the end of life
An examination of a number of the key ethical issues facing patients, carers and practitioners at the end of life

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • Beauchamp, Tom L. and Childress, James F.: 2013, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 7th Ed., Oxford University Press, New York, 978 - 0 - 19 - 992458 - 5
  • Veatch, Robert M.: 2011, The Basics of Bioethics, 3rd Ed., Prentice Hall, New York, 0205765629
  • Donnellly, Mary: 2002, Consent: Bridging the Gap Between Doctor and Patient, Cork University Press, Cork, 1859182755
  • Dooley, Dolores and McCarthy, Joan: 2012, Nursing Ethics, 2nd Ed., Gill & MacMillan, Dublin, 9780717149865
  • Holm, Søren: 1997, Ethical problems in clinical practice, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 0719050499
  • Hursthouse, Rosalind: 2002, On virtue ethics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 9780199247998
  • Pellegrino, Edmund D. and Thomasma, David C.: 1993, The virtues in medical practice, Oxford University Press, New York, 0195082893
  • Pettersen, Tove: 2008, Comprehending care, Lexington Books, Lanham, MD, 978073912616
  • Sellman D.: 2011, What makes a good nurse: why the virtues are important for nurses, Jessica Kingsley, 978 - 1 - 84310 - 932
  • Singer, Peter: 1996, Rethinking life and death, St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 0312144016
Other Resources

2085, Journal, 0, Medicine, Philosophy and Health Care, 2086, Journal, 0, Journal of Medical Ethics, 2087, Journal, 0, Nursing Ethics, 2088, Journal, 0, Nursing Philosophy, 2089, Journal, 0, Cambridge Quarterly of Health Care Ethics, 2090, Journal, 0, Bioethics,
Programme or List of Programmes