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The University of Southampton

PHIL1026 Applied Ethics

Module Overview

In both public and private life, we face difficult and pressing ethical questions every day. Should we give a proportion of our wealth to those in developing countries? Should we allow doctors to perform abortions or euthanasia and, if so, under what circumstances? How should we respond to the threat climate change poses to future generations? And so on. In many cases these questions are inescapable—we cannot sit around and hope that the issues they concern will go away. Our answers to them make a difference to our lives and to the lives of others. Unfortunately, the heated debates surrounding such questions can appear intractable. The aim of this module is to offer you the chance to reflect on certain real world ethical questions and the issues they raise, and to discuss those issues in a dispassionate and informed way.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • concrete ethical questions and the issues surrounding them.
  • of some influential answers to those questions and the problems facing them.
  • background assumptions lying behind those questions and answers.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • interpret, synthesise and criticise complex texts and positions.
  • present ideas, both orally and in writing, clearly and carefully.
  • debate and criticise ideas and arguments in an even-handed fashion.
  • articulate and defend your own views regarding the issues the module concerns.
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • take notes from talks and written materials.
  • contribute to discussion in a critical but dispassionate way.
  • express views clearly and concisely.


The content of this vary year to year. Examples of topics which might be covered include: • climate change • global poverty • euthanasia • suicide • abortion • punishment

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • In-class discussion • One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include • Attending classes • Contributing to class discussion • Doing independent research for and writing assessed essays and exams

Wider reading or practice24
Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Completion of assessment task22
Follow-up work24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Hugh LaFollette (2005). The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics. 

R. G. Frey and Christopher Heath Wellman (2005). A Companion to Applied Ethics. 



Draft essay


MethodPercentage contribution
Discussion board activity 25%
Essay 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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