Ethics: An Introduction (Online)

Course summary

Ethics: An Introduction (Online)


In this introduction to ethics, the philosophy of morality, we shall examine four important ethical theories (virtue ethics, deontologiy, expressivism and utilitarianism), applying them to two practical questions: the rights of animals and euthanasia. There will be plenty of opportunity to engage in debate and test your own thinking.

Listen to Marianne Talbot talking about the course:

In this introduction to ethics, the philosophy of morality, we shall be considering questions of both practice (is lying wrong? Must we keep our promises?) and theory (what makes an action wrong? Is it only human who worry about morality? How do we apply moral theory to society?). We shall examine four important ethical theories (Aristotles virtue ethics, Kants deontologiy, Humes expressivism and Mills utilitarianism) and we shall apply them to two practical questions: the rights of animals and euthanasia. There will be plenty of opportunity to engage in debate and to test your own moral theories.

For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.

Programme details

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  1. Rules, truths and theories: an introduction to ethical reasoning.
  2. Freedom, knowledge and society: the preconditions of ethical reasoning.
  3. Virtue Ethics: virtue, values and character.
  4. Humean Ethics: Non-Cognitivism, the passions and moral motivation.
  5. Deontology: Kant, duty and the moral law.
  6. Utilitarianism: Mill and the utility calculus.
  7. Reading week.
  8. Practical ethics: animal rights.
  9. Practical ethics: euthanasia.
  10. Making up your mind.

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following book:

Shafer-Landau, Russ: (Ed); Ethical Theory: An Anthology (Blackwell`s, Oxford, 2007, ISBN: 978-1-4051-3320-3)


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.

For more information on CATS point please click on the link below:

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.

All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.


EU Fee: £260.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Roxana Baiasu

Apart from being a Philosophy tutor of the Department of Continuing Education, Roxana is also Associate Member of the Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University, and Tutorial  Fellow at Stanford University Centre in Oxford.  Prior to this she was a lecturer at the Universities of Vienna and Leeds, and a Leverhulme Fellow at Sussex University. She is writing in the areas of Post-Kantian metaphysics and epistemology, philosophy of religion and feminist philosophy. She edited (with G. Bird and A.W. Moore) Contemporary Kantian Metaphysics Today: New Essays on Time and Space (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), and published in, among others, The Southern Journal of Philosophy, IJPS,Research in Phenomenology and Sophia.

Course aims

This course aims to:

  • introduce students to philosophical ethics;
  • help students understand that and why there is more to ethics than following rules;
  • introduce students to the different philosophical theories of ethics, and the arguments for and against them;
  • enable students to come to and defend their own positions on various ethical issues

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts
  • Group discussions of particular issues
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders
  • Debating from positions given rather than from personal belief (to hone skills of debate)

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to explain:

  • the difference between first and second order ethical questions;
  • why moral dilemmas are ineliminable and difficult;
  • how moral questions are applied in a social context;
  • some arguments for and against absolute moral truth;
  • the nature of the four moral theories studied, the arguments for and against them, and how they can be compared and constrasted;
  • their own positions on various issues, and why they hold them.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 hours.