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BITC201 Bioethics and the Life Sciences

Explores ethical issues within, and arising from, science and technology. Covers basic ethics in science, and the moral and social implications of life science for human life, particularly its earliest stages.

Bioethics and the Life Sciences gives students an opportunity to examine the ethical implications of life sciences and biotechnology. Increasingly, scientists are being called to justify some of their practices, such as human and animal experimentation, genetic modification, use of dead human bodies, and publication of controversial work. Without a good understanding of the moral issues arising within life science and biotechnology, scientists and non-scientists alike will not be well-equipped to participate in the public debate about bioscience and biotechnology and how they affect wider society.

Paper title Bioethics and the Life Sciences
Paper code BITC201
Subject Bioethics
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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126 points
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
This paper is suitable for second-year and third-year students from all academic backgrounds who are interested in learning about and discussing the rights and wrongs of the biosciences.

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Mike King

Lecturers: Dr Mike King

Emeritus Professor Gareth Jones

Associate Professor Neil Picking

Associate Professor Phillip Wilcox


Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

The paper will encourage students to:

  • Be able to identify key ethical concepts.
  • Identify moral claims and distinguish them from other sorts of claims.
  • Identify reasons given in support of particular moral claims.
  • Compare and contrast alternative analyses of topics.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative analyses of topics.
  • Review key approaches and literature relating to bioethics of the biosciences, including topics concerning the beginning of life.
  • Use reasoned argument to present preferred analysis/approach.
  • Begin to recognise implications of ethical reasoning for scientific practice.

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-14:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Wednesday 13:00-14:50 9-14, 16-22