Ethical Theory and Practice

Subject PHIL90004 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Five 4 or 5 hour seminars held on Saturdays at regular intervals throughout the semester, 24 hours in all.
Total Time Commitment: Average of 10 hours a week
Prerequisites: None.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: Students enrolling in this subject must have completed a Bachelor of Arts degree or equivalent.
Non Allowed Subjects: None.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:
Subject Overview:

This subject involves the philosophical study of issues in professional and applied ethics. It introduces students to a range of concepts and theories relevant to that study, including the nature of moral reasoning and philosophical argumentation. Drawing on these, students will investigate specific topics which may include: authority and autonomy, the relationship between personal and role morality, coercion and regulation, conflicts of interest, the role of trust, paternalism, the nature and limits of confidentiality, whistle-blowing and issues of discrimination in gender, race and sexual preference.
On completion of the subject students should have developed a substantial understanding of the topic and of the relevant literature, and increased their appreciation of the value of careful, skilled and principled argument in dealing with such issues.


Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • be able to identify a range of ethical dilemmas in professional and applied ethics.
  • appreciate the ethical issues raised by these dilemmas.
  • demonstrate an understanding of some of the key literature on ethical issues in the area of applied and professional ehtics.
  • be able to contribute in an informed and reasoned way to ethical debate in these areas.

Written work totalling 5000 words comprising an assignment of 1500 words 30% (due mid-semester) and a 3500 word essay 70% (due at the end of semester).

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Students who fail to meet this hurdle requirement will be deemed ineligible to submit the final piece of assessment for this subject. Regular participation in class is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 2% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject

Prescribed Texts:

A book of readings will be provided before the beginning of the course.

Recommended Texts:

Alexandra, A., and Miller, S., Ethics in Practice UNSW Press (2009). Koehn. D., The Grounds of Professional Ethics, London: Routledge (1994). Chadwick. R., (ed.), Ethics and the Professions, Avebury (1994). Shaw W., and Barry V., Moral Issues in Business (8th ed.) Wadsworth (2001). Martin M. W., Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics, New York: OUP (2000). Coady M., and Bloch S., Codes of Ethics and the Professions, Melbourne: MUP (1996). Rest J.R., and Narvaez D., Moral development in the Professions: Psychology and Applied Ethics, Erlbaum (1994). May L., The Socially Responsive Self: Social Theory and Professional Ethics, University of Chicago Press (1996). Wueste D.E., Professional Ethics and Social Responsibility. Rowman and Littlefield (1994). Kultgen J. H., Ethics and Professionalism, University of Philadelphia Press (1998). Pellegrino E.D., et al. (eds) Ethics, Trust and the Professions, Georgetown University Presss (1991). Cocking D and Oakley J., Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles. Cambridge Uniuversity Press (2001).

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • have displayed the ability to engage critically with academic theorising.
  • have developed skills in research and analysis that will enable them to undertake further independent research work of greater length and originality.
  • have displayed the capacity for independent study.
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Master of Arts (Professional and Applied Ethics)
Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Ethics
Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Ethics

Download PDF version.