Postgraduate - Area of Study

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Managing facultyFaculty of Arts
Offered byCentre for Human Bioethics


  • Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the handbook are not available for study in the current year.
  • + The seminars for most of the on-campus units will be taught in the City in 2012. + Most units are also available via off-campus learning. + International students may only undertake this discipline via off-campus learning in one of the relevant courses if studying outside of Australia.


NOTE: This area of study has had one or more changes made to it since publication on 1 October 2011. For details of change/s, please consult the change register at

The growth of scientific knowledge and technical ability in medicine, genetics and the biological sciences has led to a number of ethical dilemmas which perplex all of us, but especially those in the health care field. Does the fact that we can prolong the life of a patient in a permanent vegetative state mean that we should do so? Is destructive embryo experimentation justified by the prospect it offers of alleviating infertility? Should research designed to find 'gay genes' be conducted given that the results of such work might be used against homosexual people? Should we proceed with research trying to clone people? These and many other questions raise complex ethical and legal issues. The study, discussion and teaching of these issues has come to be known as bioethics - a field generally defined as covering the ethical issues raised by medicine, genetics and the biomedical sciences.

The Centre for Human Bioethics has academic strengths in the areas of:

  • ethical issues in patient care, especially involving autonomy and confidentiality
  • the ethics of clinician accountability
  • ethics and infectious disease
  • medical end-of-life decisions
  • biosecurity and bioterrorism
  • moral psychology and moral development
  • reproductive ethics
  • surveillance ethics
  • feminist philosophy
  • ethics and genetics
  • biopolitics.

The centre's research also has a strong emphasis on ethical theory, especially virtue ethics and consequentialism, the relevance of emotions to ethics, partiality and impartiality in ethics, feminist ethics, and applied ethics and moral philosophy.


Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Research)

Students complete 48 points, including two core units and two elective units.

Core units

Elective units

Course coordinator

Associate Professor Justin Oakley

Further courses

For a list of units studied or course outlines, refer to the relevant courses.


Master of Bioethics students who have completed at least one semester of the course are eligible to apply for an annual fellowship of $9000 to work during the Australian summer as an intern in the Department of Ethics, Equity, Trade, and Human Rights at the World Health Organisation in Geneva. For more information contact Associate Professor Justin Oakley.

Relevant courses

  • 4047 Graduate Certificate in Research Ethics
  • 3937 Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Research)
  • 0122 Master of Bioethics
  • 2704 Master of Bioethics*
  • 0020 Doctor of Philosophy*

*By research