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Unit of study_

BETH5204: Clinical Ethics

Semester 1, 2021 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit will facilitate students to critically review the ethical issues that underlie the delivery of healthcare. Students will explore: dominant theoretical approaches relevant to ethical reasoning in the clinical context; key ethical concepts in the clinical encounter (such as autonomy, professionalism and confidentiality); major contexts in which ethical issues arise in clinical practice (such as the start and end of life); and the role of clinical ethics consultation. The unit will also consider specific issues and populations within clinical practice, such as healthcare in underserved populations.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BETH5204
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Ainsley Newson,
Lecturer(s) Siun Gallagher,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Online task Online tasks
Online tasks
10% Multiple weeks 800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Essay
Written assessment
Due date: 07 Jun 2021 at 23:59
2,500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Case study analysis
Written assessment
30% Week 07
Due date: 19 Apr 2021 at 23:59
1,500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Participation Participation
10% Weekly n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

Assessments are graded in accordance with the marking matrix for all BETH Units of Study. A copy of this matrix is available in the Canvas site for this course.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction 1: bioethics in health care Individual study (9 hr) LO1
Week 02 Introduction 2: Ethical theories and methods Individual study (9 hr) LO1
Intensive 1: Case-based interactive session Seminar (5 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 03 Core concepts 1: Autonomy and consent Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 04 Core concepts 2: Deciding for others Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 05 Core concepts 3: Professionalism Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 06 Core concepts 4: Truth telling and confidentiality Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 07 Core concepts 5: Clinical care where resources are limited Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 08 Applications 1: The beginning of life Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 09 Applications 2: Children Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Intensive 2: Case-based interactive teaching Seminar (5 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 10 Applications 3: Ageing and end of life Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 11 Applications 4: Voluntary assisted dying Individual study (9 hr) LO2
Week 12 Clinical Ethics Support 1: principles and foundations Individual study (9 hr) LO3
Week 13 Clinical Ethics Support 2: Practices and Controversies Individual study (9 hr) LO3

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Outline moral theories used to consider ethical issues in health care
  • LO2. Outline, synthesise and critically reflect on predominant concepts in clinical ethics and their application
  • LO3. Synthesise and critically engage with the theoretical and practical aspects of clinical ethics support

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Every year, the course coordinators carefully consider feedback from students together with their own evaluations to optimise this Unit of Study. This Unit is research-led.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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