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Unit of study_

BETH5204: Clinical Ethics

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. This Unit is taught predominantly online. Depending on student interest, periodic interactive workshops will also be offered. These can be attended in person, or via Zoom (synchronously or asynchronously).


Academic unit Public Health
Unit code BETH5204
Unit name Clinical Ethics
Session, year
Semester 1, 2022
Attendance mode Block mode
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Ainsley Newson,
Administrative staff For queries relating to BETH5204 specifically, please contact relevant staff via the details available on the Unit's Canvas page. For all candidature-related or other administrative enquiries please email:
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Essay
Written assessment
55% STUVAC 2,500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Case study analysis
Written assessment
35% Week 06 1,500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Participation Participation
10% Weekly n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3

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 Unit of Study.

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.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, 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 dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

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

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.

Required readings

All readings are available through Canvas, via the ‘Reading List’ link.

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. Identify and describe relevant 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 in health care
  • 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
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.


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