Thinking and Acting Ethically

Subject PHIL90022 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2014:

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


Must be enrolled in the Executive Master of Arts program

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:


The Graduate School of Humanities & Social Sciences

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 and organisational life. The subject will help students understand the nature of moral reasoning, and its application to a number of ethical issues which they are likely to encounter in their lives as students and workers. These issues may include the nature of the university, autonomy and paternalism, happiness, free speech in the (academic) workplace, personal and professional relationships, cross-cultural values, intellectual property, and privacy and confidentiality. We will also look at the ways in which ethics can be ‘designed in’ 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.

Learning Outcomes:

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.


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.

Assessment Extension Policy and Special Consideration

If circumstances beyond your control have severely hindered your ability to complete assessed work, you can ask for an extension of the due date for that work. The marks you receive will not be raised to take account of your difficulties. Assessed work is graded 'on merit'. How you ask for an extension depends on the length of time for which your work is delayed:

A. Permission from the subject coordinator of the subject you are studying For extensions of up to 10 days, you must seek approval from the coordinator of the subject. Except in unusual circumstances, you must speak to him or her before the due date for the work and provide an extension form, which can be downloaded here. These forms should be filled in and given to the subject coordinator before the submission date. Extensions will not be granted after the due date has passed. An individual extension request must be made to each subject coordinator.

B. Special Consideration

For extensions longer than 10 days you must apply for Special Consideration from the Faculty of Arts. This applies to work affected by circumstances that are:

  • Unavoidable
  • Unforseen,
  • Outside your control
  • Not primarily your fault

If your circumstances fit this pattern you should apply for Special Consideration through the Student Portal. You will have to provide documentation to back your request. Details about this documentation, and further details about the process are given on the Student Portal and at the Faculty of Arts Special Consideration webpage. The Faculty will then will tell subject coordinators by email of the outcomes of your application for special consideration. In severe cases affecting multiple subjects, it is also advisable to contact the EMA Course Coordinator.

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.

Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 point program - full time over 12 months
150 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months

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