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Careers in bioethics

Overview

Bioethics students often consider new and controversial ethical issues. They also engage with long-standing ethical issues, about which they may have already formed opinions.

In both instances, our students are taught and encouraged to approach issues critically, rationally, and with a good grounding in the best relevant research.

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Skills and attributes of bioethics graduates

As a part of philosophy, bioethics develops skills that can be broadly applied to such important areas as advancing debate, causing social change, and developing a career. The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education's 2007 Subject Benchmark Statement for Philosophy identified many valuable skills imparted to students:

  • Precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems
  • Constructing rationally persuasive arguments for or against specific philosophical claims
  • Marshalling a complex body of information
  • Reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources, employing powers of imagination, and analysis

Some of these are key personal attributes, such as the ability to:

  • Think creatively, self-critically and independently
  • Work autonomously
  • Motivate oneself

Subject benchmark statement for philosophy (UK Quality Assurance Agency website)

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Employment prospects for bioethics graduates

The skills mentioned above are highly transferrable, meaning study in bioethics can allow the pursuit of a broad range of interesting and rewarding jobs. Much like graduates of science, mathematics, philosophy, or politics, there isn't one particular career that awaits bioethics graduates.

Bioethics students come from a range of backgrounds, including law, philosophy, medicine, the life or health sciences, religious studies, social sciences, and psychology. Given this breadth of experience, the transferability of many skills gained in bioethics is advantageous.

It means that students may apply their skills to their original field of study and enrich it further or take it in new directions.

Philosophy and your career: Audio interview and PDF guide from Dr. Clare Saunders (Open University UK website)

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Popular careers choices for bioethics graduates

Bioethics Centre students have gone on to work in such diverse areas as:

  • Ethical oversight of health research
  • Health governance
  • Law
  • Academic work at such excellent institutions as the Universities of Otago, Oxford, and Cambridge

As you can see, there are a range of jobs and careers that bioethics students are particularly suited too. These include academic work in bioethics, and bioethics-related work in health care and law.

The University of Virginia's bioethics careers page describes these in detail, and it is well worth reading.

The Berman Institute of Bioethics at John Hopkins also provides good information.

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