Thinking and Acting Ethically

Subject PHIL90022 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

April, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Apr-2016 to 27-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 03-May-2016
Census Date 13-May-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 03-Jun-2016

This intensive subject will be taught weekly over five weeks, beginning in April.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 hours – 4 x 5 hour seminars + 1 x 4 hour seminar
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Admission into the MC-EMA 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 Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


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 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 professional lives. These issues may include, autonomy and paternalism, role morality and its relationship with personal morality, integrity systems (including codes of ethics and complaints and discipline procedures), whistle-blowing, free speech in the workplace, personal and professional relationships, crosscultural values, conflicts of interest, and privacy and confidentiality. 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:

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • be familiar with key concepts and theoretical tools in ethics;
  • apply these to the understanding of morally complex situations, including in their own working life; and
  • contribute in an informed and reasoned way to ethical debate about such situations.


1. An assignment, 1,500 words (30%), due at the end of the second week of the teaching period.

2. An essay, 3,500 words (70%), due four weeks after the end of the teaching period.

Hurdle Requirements: Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% of classes in order to pass this subject.

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:

  • display the ability to engage critically with academic theorising;
  • develop high-level skills in argument analysis and presentation;
  • develop skills in research and analysis that will enable them to undertake further independent research work of greater length and originality; and
  • display the capacity for independent study.
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: EMA 100 point program - full time over 1 year
EMA 150 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 1.5 years
EMA 200 point program - full time over 2 years

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