Credit points: 15

Subject outline

This subject is concerned with moral problems that arise in private and public life. We will focus on a selection of controversial topics drawn from a number of areas. One of these may concern questions of life and death, including the sanctity of life, abortion, and euthanasia. Another may focus on ethical issues raised by new technologies, such as the use of drones in war, reproductive choice, genetic enhancement, and sex selection. In any one year we may also examine social issues, such as stereotyping, bullying or racism, and/or global issues, such as the international trade in organs and body parts, global poverty, and the ethics of climate change policy.

SchoolHumanities and Social Sciences

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorRichard Heersmink

Available to Study Abroad/Exchange StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 2 - UG

Available as ElectiveYes

Learning ActivitiesIn forum posts and replies identify ideas or claims in the set texts that you believe reveal their underlying assumptions and cultural contexts and explain how these impact on the strength of an argument. Read set passages from key texts, think about and answer a series of questions about the propositions they make. Choose one of the main research topics, read the set text, think about and discuss a philosophical claim and objections with a view to developing a coherent argument.

Capstone subjectNo

Subject particulars

Subject rules



Incompatible subjectsPHI2AET

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Quota Management StrategyN/A

Quota-conditions or rulesN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Minimum credit point requirementN/A

Assumed knowledgeN/A

Career Ready


Work-based learningNo

Self sourced or Uni sourcedN/A

Entire subject or partial subjectN/A

Total hours/days requiredN/A

Location of WBL activity (region)N/A

WBL addtional requirementsN/A

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

Graduate Capabilities

Intended Learning Outcomes

01. Locate, review and analyse unfamiliar ideas and arguments using methods that take into account relevant cultural and other background assumptions.
02. Identity and analyse the underlying issues and problems in contemporary debates about controversial social issues and assess strategies to resolve the problems.
03. Develop a coherent and well-structured argument in relation to a complex philosophical claim concerning a contemporary social issue.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne (Bundoora), 2021, Semester 1, Blended


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorRichard Heersmink

Class requirements

Lecture/SeminarWeek: 10 - 22
One 2.00 hours lecture/seminar per week on weekdays during the day from week 10 to week 22 and delivered via face-to-face.

TutorialWeek: 10 - 22
One 1.00 hour tutorial per week on weekdays during the day from week 10 to week 22 and delivered via face-to-face.


Assessment elementCommentsCategoryContributionHurdle% ILO*

Task 1 Blog posts and replies to other students (1200 words)

N/AOtherIndividualNo30 SILO1, SILO2

Task 2: Staged research essay stage one: annotated bibliography and proposal (800 words)

N/AAssignmentIndividualNo20 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3

Task 2 Staged research essay stage two: Essay (2000)

N/AAssignmentIndividualNo50 SILO1, SILO2, SILO3