Ethics of Ageing

Subject POPH90260 (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:

Term 4, Parkville - Taught online/distance.
Pre-teaching Period Start 03-Oct-2016
Teaching Period 10-Oct-2016 to 04-Dec-2016
Assessment Period End 09-Dec-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 04-Oct-2016
Census Date 28-Oct-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 18-Nov-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 30 hours
Total Time Commitment:

170 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 Anton Allen


Melbourne School of Population and Global Health


Currently enrolled students:

Future Students:

Subject Overview:

This subject provides an overview of some of the key ethical issues associated with ageing across the lifespan, with an emphasis on their societal dimensions and implications for policy and professional practice. The skills and knowledge gained by students completing this subject will enhance their ability to engage with the health, social and economic issues of ageing encountered throughout the Masters of Ageing curriculum.

Students will be introduced to bioethical theory and its application in analysis, evaluation and decision making. Martha Nussbaum's account of capabilities for human flourishing will be used to frame the exploration of a number of key issues organized within thematic units of "justice", "autonomy" and "dignity". A final unit will explore ethical issues pertaining to the human quest for "immortality".

Topics covered include diverse historical and cultural perspectives on common ethical issues of ageing; ethical principles for health professionals, care givers and institutions providing for the elderly; age as a criterion for health resource allocation; age-based discrimination and bias in clinical decision-making and employment; international and intergenerational obligations in the context of care giving; and life extension and suspension modalities such as fertility preservation, cryogenics, transplantation and cloning.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  • Recognise and explain basic elements of ethical theory and frameworks, as well as major ethical issues of relevance to ageing persons and populations.
  • Demonstrate an informed understanding of key ethical principles and concepts including autonomy; justice, beneficence, non-maleficence and human dignity.
  • Critically analyse an ethical issue in ageing through identification of relevant ethical concepts and principles, and evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of arguments in the debate.
  • Formulate a reflective argument outlining a proposed solution to an ethical dilemma.

  • Contribution to online participation thoroughout the teaching period (10%)
  • Five minute online presentation held in the middle of the teaching period (10%)
  • 1,500 word reflective essay due in the middle of the teaching period (30%)
  • 2,500 word reflective essay due at the end of the teaching period (50%)

Prescribed Texts:

Students will have access to electronic copies of relevant readings.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

Students will be provided with the opportunity to practice and reinforce:

  • Enhanced skills in critical thinking and analysis of issues in public policy and practice from an ethical perspective.
  • Advanced oral and written communication skills.
  • Advanced skills in reasoning, persuasion and effective argumentation.
  • Ability to identify, evaluate and integrate ethical theory with empirical knowledge in public health and social policy and practice.
Related Course(s): Graduate Certificate in Ageing
Graduate Certificate in Rehabilitation Science
Graduate Diploma in Ageing
Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation Science
Master of Advanced Nursing
Master of Ageing
Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration (Enhanced)
Master of Public Health
Master of Rehabilitation Science
Specialist Certificate in Ageing
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management

Download PDF version.