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Unit of study_

BETH5209: Medicines Policy, Economics and Ethics

Semester 1, 2023 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Medicines save lives but they can be costly and can have serious adverse effects. Value-laden decisions are continuously being made at individual, institutional, national and international levels regarding the medicines we need, want and can afford. In this unit of study, we will explore and critique global and national policies and processes related to medicines, examining how research and development agendas are set; how medicines are assessed and evaluated; and how new technologies are translated into practice. We will also explore broader trends such as globalisation, commercialisation and changing consumer expectations. By the end of the course, students will understand the forces shaping the development, regulation, funding and uptake of medicines both nationally and internationally, and the political, ethical, legal and economic issues that are at stake. This course is designed to appeal to a wide range of students from ethics, law, public health, health care, policy, communications, economics, business, politics, administration, and biomedical science.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BETH5209
Academic unit Public Health
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge

A degree in science, medicine, pharmacy, nursing, allied health, philosophy/ethics, sociology/anthropology, history, law, communications, public policy, business, economics, commerce, organisation studies, or other relevant field, or by special permission

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Anson Fehross,
Lecturer(s) Anson Fehross,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Online discussion
Online discussion
15% Multiple weeks 100 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment hurdle task Position paper
Written assessment
Due date: 01 Jun 2023 at 23:59
2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Assignment hurdle task Argument overview
Written assessment
35% Week 07
Due date: 06 Apr 2023 at 23:59
1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
hurdle task = hurdle task ?

Assessment summary

Argument overview: Students will be asked to describe the two strongest arguments for, and two against, a particular position.

Position paper: Students will be asked to write an essay in which they take a position on (1) the issue they explored in the minor assignment or (2) another listed topic.

Online discussion: Students will be asked to discuss a defined topic. Students will also be assigned to co-lead a module during the semester. 

Students must submit both assignments, participate in at least four modules and lead their assigned module in order to pass the Unit.


Assessment criteria

Written assignments:

Please see detailed marking rubric for more detail on how essays will be assessed.

Online discussion

For each Module, students will be given a Quantitative Grade (up to 2 points) and a Qualitative Grade (up to 3 points) for their participation in online discussion. While there is no “mandatory” post length, we expect a substantive post to take up at least 100 words.

  • Quantitative Grade: 1 point if only 1 post is made, and 2 points if two or more posts are made.
  • Qualitative Grade: 1 point for a short response or tokenistic comment, 2 points for a contribution (i.e., presenting ideas in your own words) and 3 points for a significant contribution (i.e, putting forward a position in a coherently and critically argued manner with supporting examples and references). 

The post with the best qualitative grade will represent your qualitative participation grade for that Module

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see


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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Standard university penalties will apply.

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
Ongoing BETH5209 is divided into six modules, each of which is accompanied by an Online Discussion on a dedicated topic linked to a set of readings. Other topics are also covered through readings, primers and podcasts. Students are expected to spend approximately 8 hours per week on average including all reading, podcasts, online discussions and written assignment preparation. Online class (100 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3

Attendance and class requirements

Students must participate in at least four online discussions in order to pass the course.


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

A set of complusory readings will be made available for each week. Non-complusory supplementary readings will also be provided as the course progresses.


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. understand the forces shaping the development, regulation, funding, uptake and use of medicines, both nationally and internationally
  • LO2. use your reasoning skills and insights from a variety of disciplines to engage in debate about the politics, ethics and economics of the development, regulation, funding, uptake and use of medicines
  • LO3. critique current and proposed medicines policies

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.

Based on feedback from previous students, we have changed the assessment structure so that students can choose whether to focus on the same topic for both essays, or switch to a new topic. We have also made the online discussions less directive to encourage more wide-ranging discussions.



Work, health and safety




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