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Semester 1

Ethical Values and Challenges in Care (SHSS10003)


Health in Social Science





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Visiting students should have passed at least 2 University social science courses (such as Health Studies, Sociology, Politics, Social Policy, Social Anthropology, Psychology, etc) at grade B or above; we will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum academic entry requirements does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that 3rd year Health courses have extremely limited spaces available, and are very popular, so students cannot be guaranteed a space in any 3rd year Health course.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the Health in Social Science department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

Ethical practice forms the bedrock of professional care and this course aims to give students a good grounding in ethical principles, issues, debates, codes and practices, so that the student is sufficiently well-informed to understand and analyse ethical values, challenges and dilemmas that arise in a wide range of professional caring contexts.

Course Description

This course focuses on ethical practice in the caring professions. Compassion in caring will constitute a key theme through the course. Starting from an overview of the philosophical foundations of professional ethics, students will examine key debates around universality and context-dependence in professional ethics. The course will explain how moral reasoning related to professional practice goes beyond the entirely rational and requires the capacity for empathic engagement with others. Students will also apply the concept of professional wisdom to ethical practice. Through this exploration, students will gain an awareness of their personal ethics and values. Particular ethical principles relating to care and treatment will be explored, including beneficence, autonomy, self-determination, informed consent, confidentiality, human rights, dignity, respect and professional fidelity. Students will analyse the strengths and limitations of various professional ethical codes by applying them to complex ethical case studies. Ethical issues relating to the vulnerable service user/patient will be examined, including ethical challenges in relation to capacity and decision-making in the context of mental health, dementia, end of life care, critical care, childhood and intellectual disability. Key research will be introduced to extend discussion and to include a focus on how ethical practice and decision-making may be researched and informed through research. With its interdisciplinary focus, this course will benefit students from a range of backgrounds and with various career aspirations. While using examples from UK professional codes and contexts, discussion will focus on general principles and values of relevance to both UK and international students. Students will examine their personal ethical values and understand how the personal and the professional are intertwined in ethical caring practice. The course draws on the research and scholarship being undertaken by members of the School of Health in Social Science in relation to ethics in the caring professions.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 80%, Practical Exam 20%

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