This module will introduce basic questions and concepts in reproductive ethics and end of life decisions, as well as more general philosophical questions about the value of life and badness of death.
Ethics of the Beginning and End of Life
To begin with, we will consider ethical questions about the creation of new life, whether through natural reproduction, through In Vitro Fertilisation, or even the creation of new life forms in the laboratory.
When does life begin, and what are the arguments for and against abortion and embryo destruction? We will then discuss possible ethical limits to human intervention in the reproductive process.
For example, is it wrong to ‘play God’ or should we pursue stem cell research and create new synthetic life forms? Turning then to the end of life, we shall analyse the concept of death, and review the legal shift to a ‘brain death’ definition of death, including criticism of this shift and extension to cortical brain death. We shall then consider the value of life, and what underlies death’s badness. We shall consider the role of religious doctrines in medical ethics and the sense (if any) in which human life can be said to be sacred. Against this background, we shall next turn to examine controversies relating to euthanasia and assisted suicide, organ donation and the vegetative state.
|Short course fee 2023-24||£2230.00|
|Students enrolled on MSt in Practical Ethics (23-24)||£1870.00|
Course Director: Professor Guy Kahane
Guy Kahane is Director of Studies at the Oxford Uehiro Centre. He is also a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Pembroke College, Oxford, and Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford. Professor Kahane was a recipient of a Wellcome Trust University Award (2009-2014), and has been a Research Fellow at the Uehiro Centre since 2005. He is also an Associate Editor of the Journal of Practical Ethics and was previously an Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics. Kahane has published over 100 articles, many of which have appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals in philosophy and science, such as Nous, Ethics, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Nature, PNAS, and Cognition. His research interests include practical ethics, metaethics, moral psychology and philosophy of religion. Kahane is also actively engaged in interdisciplinary empirical research into the neural and psychological processes that underlie moral decision-making.
Cesar Palacios Gonzalez
Deputy Course Director
Deputy Course Director: Dr César Palacios-González
Lead Tutor: Dr Jonathan Pugh
This course consists of an intensive teaching week in Oxford to include lectures, seminars, discussion groups and student presentations.
The teaching week will be fully supported online via a Virtual Learning Environment to include essential readings, texts and online lectures. Students can continue discussions when away from Oxford using the online forums.
Students will also have access to:
- Oxford's Libraries online learning resources
- Facilities available at the Department for Continuing Education:
- Graduate Room with study space, printing facilities, lockers and refreshments
- Computer resource room
- Common room and bar
- Dining room
Assessment for each module will be based on a written assignment, which shall not be of more than 3,500 words.
This course can be taken with or without academic credit. All participants who satisfy the course requirements will receive a Certificate of Attendance. Those opting to take the course for credit and successfully complete an assignment will also receive 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 7 (postgraduate). Credit points are recognised by many employers and universities in the UK and internationally.
This module can be taken as part of the MSt in Practical Ethics, or as a stand-alone short course.
Short course applications
This course requires you to complete the online application form (please press the 'Apply' button) and include a copy of your CV as an attachment.
If you are applying to take this course for academic you will also need to complete the reference section of the application form, and input the email address of your referee. Upon successfully submitting the application an email will be sent to your referee asking them to provide a reference in support your application for the course.
Please note that if you are not applying to take the course for academic credit then you do not need to submit a reference.
The short course application panel will convene at certain times in the year to assess all short course applications received by that date. These dates are to be finalised, but are likely to be at the end of January, March and August (further dates may become available depending on numbers).
MSt in Practical Ethics applications
Please follow the application guidelines on the MSt in Practical Ethics page.
- Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any subject.
- However, in the absence of an appropriate undergraduate degree, sufficient relevant professional experience and/or other educational attainment may be considered as evidence of suitability in some circumstances.
- For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.
- Applicants will need to have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration).
- Where applicable, applicants will need to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
Accommodation is available at the Rewley House Residential Centre, within the Department for Continuing Education, in central Oxford. The comfortable, en-suite, study-bedrooms have been rated as 4-Star Campus accommodation under the Quality In Tourism scheme, and come with tea- and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi access and Freeview TV. Guests can take advantage of the excellent dining facilities and common room bar, where they may relax and network with others on the programme
Bed and breakfast accommodation at other University colleges can also be booked on the Oxford Rooms website.
Please ensure that you have access to a computer that meets the specification detailed here: