Thinking and Acting Ethically

Subject PHIL90022 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

April, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Total 24 hours (intensive)
Total Time Commitment: Total 120 hours
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
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:


Mr Andrew Alexandra

Subject Overview:

Moral decision-making is a practical skill which we exercise many times a day confidently and accurately. Sometimes, however, we face situations of moral complexity or novelty, where it is not obvious what we should do. In this subject, we look at the ways in which moral theory can assist us to think about such situations, particularly as they arise in our working life. The subject will provide an account of moral reasoning, and its application to a number of ethical issues in professional life, including conflicts of interest, the relationship between ordinary and role morality, cross-cultural values, autonomy and paternalism, and privacy and confidentiality. We will also look at the ways in which ethics can be designed to organizations, occupations etc, through such devices as codes of ethics, and complaints and discipline systems. Case studies will provide a focus for reflective work: students will be encouraged to develop case studies from their own experience, and pursue their own interests in this subject.


Students who successfully complete this subject should:

  • Be familiar with key concepts and theoretical tools in ethics.
  • Be able to apply these to the understanding of morally complex situations, including in their own working life.
  • Be able to contribute in an informed and reasoned way to ethical debate about such situations.
Assessment: 1. One assignment based on assigned reading, 1250 words (25%) - due early-Semester 2. One case-study based assignment, 1250 words (25%) - due mid-Semester 3. One essay of 2,500 words (50%) - due end-Semester
Prescribed Texts:

Required text: Subject reading pack.

Indicative Readings:

Andrew Alexandra and Seumas Miller Ethics in Practice: Moral Theory and the Professions Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2009.

Andrew Alexandra and Seumas Miller Integrity Systems for Occupational Groups Farnham: Ashgate, 2009.

Margaret Coady and Sidney Bloch Codes of Ethics and the Professions, Melbourne: MUP,1996.

Neil Levy Moral Relativism: A Short Introduction Oxford: Oneworld, 2002.

Mike Martin Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics, New York: OUP, 2000.

Larry May The Socially Responsive Self: Social Theory and Professional Ethics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1996.

Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking Virtue ethics and professional roles. Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

William Shaw and Vincent Barry Moral Issues in Business (8th ed.) Florence, KY: Wadsworth, 2001.

Dennis ThompsonRestoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business, and HealthcareCambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Bernard Williams Morality: An Introduction to Ethics Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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 should have:

  • Displayed the ability to engage critically with academic theorising.
  • Developed high-level skills in argument analysis and presentation.
  • Developed skills in research and analysis that will enable them to undertake further independent research work of greater length and originality.
  • Displayed the capacity for independent study.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 point program - full time over 12 months
200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months

Download PDF version.