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Biomedical and Healthcare Ethics Intercalated BA 2018 start

Course information for 2019 start

Key facts

Start date: September 2017

1 year

UK fees To be confirmed

Study abroad option: No
Work placement option: No

This course is available to UK residents only


The course aims to provide a grounding in ethics and bioethics, especially as they apply to medical practice and health policy. During the course we will explore the ethical issues surrounding clinical practice and technological advances in medicine, and consider questions such as:

  • Does a ‘conscience clause’ adequately safeguard the rights of colleagues who object to abortion?
  • How should public health services be prioritised so that access is fair?
  • Should smokers and drinkers be placed lower on waiting lists for treatment?
  • Can we justify compulsory treatment for some mental illnesses?
  • Should patients with advanced dementia be ‘helped to die’?

These and many more difficult and important questions often have to be handled by practitioners at moments of strain or when time is at a premium. This course allows for systematic study of the foundations for ethical practice and policy. All teaching takes place at the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied (IDEA) Centre. Student performance on the BA has been excellent with an outstanding attainment of II:1 and first-class degrees.

This programme is distinctive in that it is one of the few Intercalated Biomedical or Health Care Ethics degrees available in the UK that is taught by academic philosophers, thus giving students access to the teaching and supervision of disciplinary specialists in philosophical ethics. This programme is also available to study as an MA, with the opportunity to complete a dissertation in an Health Care Ethics area. If you are interested in the MA further information is available here. This programme is also taught alongside a professional MA, enabling students to study alongside experienced health care professionals.

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Course content

The BA Biomedical & Health Care Ethics aims to provide a grounding in ethics and bioethics, especially as they apply to medical practice and health policy. During the course we will explore the ethical issues surrounding clinical practice and technological advances in medicine. You will learn about the ethical issues that arise across all areas of health care practice, and have the opportunity to specialise in areas of particular interest.

The aim of this programme is to enable medical, dentistry, and veterinary science students to think constructively about the ethical aspects of their current training and future careers by providing:

  • An understanding of key concepts (such as value, responsibility, rights, consent) which feature prominently in the practical decisions of health care professionals;
  • A framework of philosophical theories within which to locate the day-to-day decisions of those who work in the area;
  • An opportunity to develop the essential skills of discussion, analysis and argumentation in relation to ethical issues.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

Reasons, Virtues and Obligation 15 credits
Conscience, Codes and Professional Issues 15 credits
Autonomy, Rationality and Psychiatric Issues 15 credits
Distributive Justice and Scarce Medical Resources 15 credits
Current Developments in Health Care Ethics 30 credits
Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life 15 credits
Ethical Issues at the End of Life 15 credits

For more information on typical modules, read Biomedical and Healthcare Ethics BA in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

The programme consists of seven taught modules. Learning takes place in small groups through a mixture of lecture and seminar style activity, with independent reading and personal study undertaken alongside these teaching sessions. Student interaction in class discussion plays a key role in the course, so you will have plenty of opportunity to develop your communication skills in addition to gaining greater understanding of the issues.


Assessment is normally by written assignment but includes a small proportion of individual and group presentation work. There are no exams for this course.

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Entry requirements, fees and applying

Entry requirements

We will consider applications from students who have successfully completed at least the first two or three years of a UK medical/dental/veterinary medical degree or other related degree from any UK institution which permits an intercalated year as part of its programme of study, or international equivalent.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language need to meet the University's minimum requirements for English language proficiency, currently IELTS: 6.5 overall with not less than 6.0 in each component skill.

How to apply

Read about applying for intercalation on the School of Medicine website.

External applicants may email the IDEA Admissions Team directly.


UK: To be confirmed

For UK and non-UK EU full-time students starting in 2018, the fee for 2018/19 will be £9,250. 

For UK and non-UK EU full-time students starting in 2019, the fee for 2019/20 will be £9,250. 

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation, and as permitted by law. For example, the increase of 2.8% in 2017/18 was based on the government’s forecast for the RPI-X measure of inflation.

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students starting in the 2019/20 academic year will have home fee status and be eligible for UK government student loans. The UK government has not confirmed the situation for future years, so keep checking our website for updates.

Financial support

Read about possible financial support for intercalation on the School of Medicine website.

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Career opportunities

Intercalating in ethics provides you with an advantage whichever specialism you choose to pursue. You will gain an understanding of key ethical concepts - such as responsibility, consent, rights, value - which will feature prominently in your life as a medical professional. You will finish the course with more confidence in writing, discussion, analysis and argumentation - all highly transferable skills.

Past students have gone onto PhD study.

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Order a prospectus online or telephone +44 (0)113 343 2336