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MA Contemporary Ethics

Course length
  • 1 year full-time
  • Not available to study part-time
  • An honours degree (normally 2.1 or above) or equivalent in an appropriate subject
  • PGCert Contemporary Ethics
  • PGDip Contemporary Ethics

NB: This programme is only available for full-time study in 2016/17.

Please see further details on the maximum period of study.

This timely and challenging programme has you explore questions such as ‘what is the good life?’, ‘how should we act?’, ‘what does moral living require of us as human beings in various contexts of life?’ You will be introduced to different schools of ethics and will learn how to formulate coherent moral arguments.

This degree attracts people whose work requires ethical reflection, such as teachers, healthcare practitioners, those in social and public service, ministers of religion and business professionals.

The timetable for 2016-17 can be found in the Postgraduate Options Handbook at the bottom of the page.

Teaching & Assessment

The programme consists of four taught modules and a dissertation. Students will take two core module and choose two optional modules of study. Two of the optional modules are taught as a three-day intensive workshop. Students are assessed in each module through a combination of coursework and an end of year essay. The final dissertation of 12,000 – 15,000 words is on a research topic agreed by your supervisor.

Core modules

Foundations in Ethics

An introduction to themes in ethical theory.

This module lays the foundation for the study of ethics by giving you an introduction to some major themes in ethical theory and areas of contemporary debate.  Themes studied include: major influences on ethical debate (relativism, utilitarianism, Kantianism, virtue ethics); the distinctive contributions of Christian ethics; conscience; Human Rights; law and morality.

Moral Development, Reasoning and Decision Making

Investigate the meaning, role and patterns of moral growth.

You will be helped to think in an informed and structured way about the meaning, role and patterns of moral growth. The module examines selected psychological theories of ego, cognitive and affective development as well as ideas associated with moral growth in virtue ethics, some of these ideas will be challenged by recent developments in social psychology to which you will be introduced. Such concepts as ‘akrasia’, ‘growth-through-moral-failure’ and ‘moral luck’ will also be studied. The module will propose a framework for thinking creatively about moral growth. This framework will be tested against one or two moral-life-narratives, real or fictional.

Optional modules

Ethical Issues Today

Consider contemporary ethical issues including the environment, mass media, war and peace.

Using the contextual and theoretical understanding of the discourse of ethics, this module will lead you into a more thorough, academically informed consideration of a range of contemporary ethical issues, related to: the environment; aging (gero-ethics), the mass media; political obligations; equality and inequalities, work and leisure; intellectual property rights; war and peace; punishment of criminals.

Bioethics and Sexual Ethics

Examine some of the pressing issues of the day, including: reproductive technologies and embryo research, euthanasia, abortion, transplants, divorce and remarriage and homosexuality and gay parenting.

Spirituality, Religion and Ethics in Contemporary Healthcare

Expand your understanding of spiritual, religious and ethical issues which are not normally part of medical formation.

Although broad in its scope, this module offers an academically rigorous and structured reflection on the subject of spirituality and its related themes from the fields of philosophy, theology and ethics. It is designed to enable healthcare professionals and all those interested in the subject to expand their understanding of spiritual, religious and ethical issues which are not normally part of medical formation, and encourages the development of a critical overview of the growing body of literature on this complex field. It explores such concepts as: ‘the human person’, ‘the meaning of life’, ‘care’ and ‘justice’ and examines the bases of (and some difficulties with) of the language of ‘human dignity’, ‘sickness’, ‘health’, ‘stigma’, ‘vulnerability’

Taught as an intensive module. Teaching dates for 2016/17 are yet to be published.

Taught as a three-day intensive
Market Economy, Ethics and the Meaning of Life

Probe the themes of economy and the common good, goods, values, and the discourse of business ethics, and marketing, ethics.

This interactive and interdisciplinary module designed to explore the themes of ‘economy and the common good’, ‘goods, values, and the discourse of business ethics’ and ‘marketing and ethics’ and ‘moral imagination and character of the business professional’.  Questions considered during the course include : Can it be meaningful to speak of the common good in relation to markets? Which goods are not for sale? What are the main strengths of, and challenges presented by, market economies at present in social and economic terms? What is the discourse of business ethics? Various case studies are introduced throughout the course in order to address these questions and discuss the possibilities of responsible business practice.

Taught as an intensive module over 3 days. Teaching dates for 2016/17 are yet to be published.

Taught as a three-day intensive