Matters of Life and Death

Subject PHIL20018 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 02-Mar-2015 to 31-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 13-Mar-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 08-May-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2x 1-hour lectures each week and 1x 1-hour tutorial (weeks 2-12)
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

One of the following is recommended but not required:

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
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:

This subject will examine a range of some of the most morally controversial issues that confront contemporary society. Are there limits we ought to respect with regard to the creation and destruction of human life? How should a society punish its criminals? What are our moral obligations to animals, and future generations? This subject will attempt to better understand and make sense of these controversies and many others.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • gain familiarity with a range of important academic material in contemporary practical ethics and political philosophy, and be able to both interpret and evaluate;
  • gain an understanding of the moral significance and compexity of a variety of controversial topics, including (but not limited to) abortion, assisted dying, punishment, immigration policy, genetic enhancement, and animal welfare;
  • become more able to defend, and not just coherently state, one's own position with regard to controversial questions in practical ethics;
  • gain an understandin of ways in which topics in proactical ethics and applied political philosophy overlap with the subject matter of other academic disciplines, such as law and the social sciences;
  • work individually, and in groups, to clarify problems, apply reasoning techniques to different issues, adn to critically evaluate the results.

A 2000 word essay, 50% (due mid-semester) and a 2-hour written examination, 50% (during the examination period).

Hurdle Requirements: This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After 5 working days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Ethics in Practice, 3rd edition, edited by Hugh LaFollette (Blackwell publishing)

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science
Philosophy Major

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