The University of Southampton

PHIL2038 Practical Ethics

Module Overview

Practical Ethics applies philosophical techniques of analysis and critical reflection to important practical issues. Each year this module will provide students with the opportunity for an in-depth examination of an area of Practical Ethics. Examples of areas that might be explored include: environmental ethics, global poverty, business ethics, bioethics and medical ethics, the rights and wrongs of killing (euthanasia, abortion, suicide, just war, etc.). Among the questions that might be examined are: What obligations do we have to help strangers in need? What basis might such obligations have? Are some charitable causes better than others? Do we have an obligation to donate to the most effective charities, or do we have discretion in our charitable giving? How do we determine the limits of obligations of beneficence? How demanding can such obligations be? Do the major moral theories converge on answers to these questions?

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of some of the basic concepts used in debates in the selected area of practical ethics.
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of problems, positions and arguments that play a key role in the selected area of practical ethics.
  • apply this understanding to social, moral and philosophical questions in the selected area of practical ethics.
  • relate the issues you explore in this module to those in other modules (e.g. Ethics, Applied Ethics)
Transferable and Generic Skills

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.
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.


The syllabus content may vary from year to year. Examples of topics that might be covered include: ? Environmental ethics ? Global poverty ? Business ethics ? Bioethics and medical ethics ? The ethics of killing

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 lectures ? Contributing to class discussion ? Doing independent research for and writing assessed essays and exam

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

Resources & Reading list

Peter Singer Famine, Affluence and Morality’, Philosophy and Public Affairs,. Famine, Affluence and Morality’, Philosophy and Public Affairs,. ,3 , pp. 229-243.

Intricate Ethics. Intricate Ethics. ,0 , pp. 0.

Thomas Pogge (2005). Journal of Ethics. Real World Justice. ,9 , pp. 29-53.


Richard W Miller (2004). Beneficence, Duty and Distance. Philosophy and Public Affairs. ,4 , pp. 357-383.





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 50%
Examination  (90 minutes) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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