Philosophy (PHIL) 335

Biomedical Ethics (Revision 2)

PHIL 335 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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PHIL 335 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course provides an introduction to selected ethical problems associated with health and health care in Canada and more globally. For instance, how should we allocate resources to health care, as compared with other initiatives influencing our health at the population level (education, social services, preventive public health measures)? What is the character of morally appropriate therapeutic relationships? How should we regulate new reproductive technologies? What particular moral problems are associated with abortion, euthanasia, and research on human subjects? Students will become familiar with traditional ethical theories and some recent challenges to them. Through readings, cases, and written work, students will learn to consider applications of theoretical approaches to current moral dilemmas in health and health care, and will develop skills necessary to critically analyze new developments.


  • Unit 1 Ethical Dimensions of Health and Health Care
  • Unit 2 Ethical Theory and Moral Reasoning
  • Unit 3 Resource Allocation
  • Unit 4 Health Care Relationships
  • Unit 5 Informed Consent
  • Unit 6 Ethical Dimensions of Health Research on Humans
  • Unit 7 Abortion
  • Unit 8 Reproduction and Genetics
  • Unit 9 Euthanasia
  • Unit 10 Broadening the Agenda of Health Ethics

Learning Outcomes

When you have completed Philosophy 335, you should be able to

  1. effectively recognize those situations that require ethical judgment, with particular attention to those situations that are encountered by health-care professionals.
  2. accurately identify and understand moral issues that are faced by health-care professionals.
  3. develop and present arguments relevant to resolving these issues.
  4. critique and defend ethical judgments and points of view related to these issues.


To receive credit for PHIL 335, you must submit every piece of written work and achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Short Answer Responses 20%
Case Study Essay 40%
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Gedge, Elisabeth (Boetzkes) and Wilfrid J. Waluchow, eds. Readings in Health Care Ethics, 2nd edition. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2012.

Other Materials

All other materials are available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the PHIL 335 challenge registration, you must achieve an overall grade of at least D (50 percent).

Activity Weighting
Case Study Essay 40%
Final Exam 60%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, July 30, 2013.

View previous syllabus.