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CHTH217 Special Topic: Bioethics and Christian Theology

Please note this paper is offered on the Dunedin campus and by DISTANCE.  It is also available to study at 300-level as CHTH317


Both Christian Theology and Bioethics as disciplines have considered a range of controversial ethical issues that face contemporary society in the area of healthcare. In this paper the resources of both Christian Theology and Bioethics will be drawn into dialogue to enable students to approach these complex issues from new and enriching perspectives. The issues to be addressed include euthanasia, abortion, IVF and human suffering. In addition, the broader concepts of human autonomy and justice will be considered as well as the way in which these concepts connect with issues such as dementia, advance directives and health allocation to aging populations. This paper will be of interest to students of Theology who wish to consider the interface between Theology and contemporary issues debated in society and those with a background in medicine and the caring professions who want to consider these bioethical issues from the standpoint of Christian Theology.

The paper will be taught concurrently both on-campus and for distance students. This will be done via videoconferencing.


Dr Simon Walker and Dr Andre Muller

Course Coordinator

Professor Paul Trebilco

Prescribed Textbook



1 x 1,800 word essay20%
1x 2,200 word essay30%
Final examination (2 hours)50%

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An examination of bioethical issues from the standpoint of Christian theology, generating dialogue between Christian theology and secular bioethics. Issues covered include euthanasia, abortion, IVF, suffering and justice.

This interdisciplinary paper offers the opportunity to discuss a range of contemporary bioethical issues from the standpoint of Christian theology and to bring the approaches of secular bioethics and Christian theology into dialogue.

Paper title Special Topic: Bioethics and Christian Theology
Paper code CHTH217
Subject Christian Thought and History
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Summer School, Summer School
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $868.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,656.70

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36 100-level points
CHTX 217
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
May not be credited together with CHTH 317 passed in 2018.
Paper Structure
This paper will be comprised of 6 modules:
  • The History of Bioethics
  • Euthanasia
  • Abortion, IVF and the Sanctity of Life
  • Autonomy and the Theological Conception of the Person
  • Conceptions of Suffering and Health
  • Justice
  • Essay of 1,800 words (20%)
  • Essay of 2,200 words (30%)
  • Two-hour exam (50%)
Academic Liaison: Professor Paul Trebilco
Teaching staff
Lecturers: Dr André Müller (Theology and Religion) and Dr Simon Walker (Bioethics Centre)
Textbooks are not required for this paper. A course book is available.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
At the end of this paper students will be able to:
  1. Articulate a response to a range of issues in contemporary society from the perspective of secular bioethics and Christian theology
  2. Discuss the ways in which the approaches to contemporary issues from the perspectives of secular bioethics and Christian theology are compatible and the ways in which they are different or conflicting
  3. Critique a range of historical positions adopted on bioethical issues facing contemporary society
  4. Outline tools and practices that enable constructive debate to occur on contemporary issues from various perspectives
Course outline
View the course outline for CHTH 217
Teaching Arrangements
On campus: Four hours of lectures per week, plus a tutorial

Distance: Four videoconferenced lectures per week. Recordings will be available for those who cannot attend live.

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Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 09:00-10:50 2-7
Wednesday 16:00-17:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
T1 Thursday 13:00-13:50 2-7