Skip to main content
Courses_

Discover bioethics at the University of Sydney

About us

Global leaders in health education

  • No.1 in Australia

    The University is ranked first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020.

    Find out more
  • Top-ranked in public health

    The University is ranked third in Australia and 35th in the world for public health in the 2020 Academic Ranking of World Universities.

    Find out more

Overview

Bioethics is concerned with ethical questions that arise in the contexts of biological and health sciences. Social concern about such issues has grown with the advancement of biomedical and reproductive health technologies, genetic engineering, cloning and stem cell research.

The study of bioethics has traditionally addressed issues such as abortion, euthanasia, the relationships between health care providers and patients, research involving humans and animals and justice in the distribution of health resources. Emerging ethical issues are related to risk and health, nanotechnology and global public health.

Questions you will address can include: Who should own bodily material, such as sperm and eggs, or embryos? When are invasive treatments to sustain life required or unjustifiable? Can we ever lie to patients? Should we tell the obese to lose weight, even when we know they feel stigmatised? Should doctors and health policy makers feel morally obligated to become advocates for social justice?

Why study with us?

  • 100% online course delivery - this course is offered through our interactive online learning environment, giving you the flexibility to tailor your study schedule around your lifestyle. We also offer full-time and part-time options, allowing you to decide your study load.
  • Add value to your existing career - studying bioethics allows you to broaden your knowledge in your chosen health or research area. 
  • Learn from experts in bioethics at Australia’s number 1 Sydney School of Public Health - the Bioethics program is part of the Sydney School of Public Health, Australia’s leading school in public health ranked number 1 in Asia-Pacific.
  • Gain professional recognition/accreditation - our study courses are designed to meet the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) continuing professional development standards.
  • Improve your non-technical skills - our course not only enhancing your understanding in bioethics, you will also improve your problem solving and critical thinking abilities, skills that are valuable in professional and academic careers. 
  • Study unique content - we offer topics of study not offered anywhere else in Australia, for example the ethics of mental health. Our multidisciplinary courses of study are diverse and cover a range of topic areas, enabling you to confront bioethical issues in new and challenging ways.  

Who should study this course?

  • You don’t have to come from a medical or health background to study bioethics. Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, such as philosophy, humanities, social science, law, science, medicine, nursing, allied health professions, psychology and health management. 
  • The structure of the program will train and equip you with new skills in bioethics and prepare you for a highly rewarding new career in or related to health. 

Subject areas

There are no specialisations for this course.

Shared pool

Entry, fees, funding & how to apply

Depends on your qualification, citizenship status
The details on this page based on your selections are a guide only, and are subject to change.

Your admission criteria

English language proficiency

Find out if you need to prove English language proficiency (depends on your country of origin and educational background).

For academic requirements check the ‘Admission criteria’ section on this page.

Your fee

Scholarships

We’ve relaunched our scholarships program and offer a variety of postgraduate coursework scholarships for both domestic and international students, including the University of Sydney Bioethics Scholarship.

Criteria, eligibility and application deadlines vary. Check the scholarships website or contact the school directly for more information.

We’ve relaunched our scholarships program and offer a variety of postgraduate coursework scholarships for both domestic and international students, including the University of Sydney Bioethics Scholarship.

Criteria, eligibility and application deadlines vary. Check the scholarships website or contact the school directly for more information.

How to apply

You can apply online via the application portal. Please submit a statement of intent along with your application detailing why you would like to apply and how the program will be beneficial to you.

When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply’ button on this course page. Visit the How to apply page for other important information. 

Standard closing dates:

Semester 1 - 11 February of the commencing year

Semester 2 - 15 July of the commencing year

We strongly encourage applicants to apply as early as possible, offers are made on a rolling basis and places are limited. Separate scholarship deadlines apply - check the scholarships website for details.

Starting date

Semester 1 (March) and Semester 2 (August)

You can apply online via the application portal. Please submit a statement of intent along with your application detailing why you would like to apply and how the program will be beneficial to you.

When you are ready to apply, select the ‘Apply’ button on this course page. Visit the How to apply page for other important information. 

Standard closing dates:

Semester 1 - 31 January of the commencing year

Semester 2 - 30 June of the commencing year

We strongly encourage international applicants to apply as early as possible to allow time for visa and travel arrangements. Separate scholarship deadlines may apply - check the scholarships website for details.

Starting date

Semester 1 (March) and Semester 2 (August)

What you'll study

The Master of Bioethics, coursework pathway, requires the successful completion of 48 credit points of units of study including:

  • 6 credit points from core units of study; and
  • 24 credit points from Part 1 of the Table of units of study; and
  • 18 credit points from Part 1 or Part 2 of the Table of units of study.

Master of Bioethics candidates with a credit average in 24 credit points of study may request to be admitted to the research pathway. The research pathway requires the successful completion of 48 credit points of units of study including:

  • 6 credit points from core units of study; and
  • 24 credit points from Part 1 of the Table of units of study; and
  • 6 credit point from Part 2 of the Table of unit of study; and
  • 12 credit points from Part 3 of the Table of units of Study.

The course can be undertaken over one year full-time, or two years part-time. If studying full-time, you will normally take four units of study in your first semester and another four in your second semester.

Your individual study plan will of course depend on the availability of core, part 1, 2 and 3 units of study in a given semester.

Download our sample course diagram to learn more about what you will study as part of this degree.    

Bioethics course structure (pdf, 33KB)

Units of Study

Admission criteria

Admission to the Master of Bioethics requires

  • a bachelor's degree with a credit average from the University of Sydney or equivalent qualification in the field of science, medicine, nursing, allied health sciences, philosophy/ethics, sociology, anthropology, history, law or other relevant field; or
  • completion of the requirements of an embedded graduate diploma or equivalent qualification.

Professional accreditation

The study courses are also designed to meet the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) continuing professional development standards, contributing 50 credits per semester under “Category 4: structured learning projects”.

Career Pathways

The Master of Bioethics responds to the widely recognised need for ethics education for scientists, researchers and professionals working in medicine, nursing, allied health, pharmacy, dentistry, public health, health law, health and public policy, science communication and related fields.

 

Learn more

Dr Julia Jones MBBS (Hons) FRACP
Master of Bioethics, 2017

“The Master of Bioethics has taught me about different approaches to tackling ethical issues in my work. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about and then discussing difficult ethical concerns with my fellow students.

It has been valuable hearing different perspectives from people with diverse professional backgrounds helping me to form balanced views on difficult problems. Studying a Masters in Bioethics will help me to be the kind of kidney specialist that I aspire to be.”

Anne Marguerite Doone Preisz
Master of Bioethics, 2017

“As a musculoskeletal senior specialist working in acute and emergency settings, it can be challenging to advocate for patients with complex needs as well as balance resource allocation. 

With a special interest in back pain and neonates, I started the Master of Bioethics to keep up with the rapid change and ongoing demands of working in public health. I had done little sociology studies and so the degree has taught me many new and transferrable skills. 

It has given me a philosophical language and helped me in real world cases, especially with ethical dilemmas, a reality clinicians face daily. I have also developed my skills in writing papers, arguing logically, and succinctly discussing and collating multiple views.”

Meet your teachers

  • Associate Professor Ainsley Newson works at the forefront of ethics and emerging technologies. She is interested in the ethical application of methods such as DNA sequencing to benefit both individual and population health.
  • Professor Angus Dawson seeks to transform bioethics by exploring issues in public and global health. He is increasingly focused on working with bodies such as the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières to implement ethics into the real world.
  • Professor Ian Kerridge is an internationally recognised scholar in bioethics and the philosophy of medicine. His research focuses on the philosophical, moral and socio-cultural concepts, frameworks and issues that underpin health, health policy and biomedicine in public health, research and clinical care.

Start your journey at the University of Sydney

Domestic students

International students

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.