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MA Contemporary Ethics

Course length
  • 1 years full-time
  • 2 years part-time
  • An honours degree (normally 2.1 or above) or equivalent in an appropriate subject
  • PGCert Contemporary Ethics
  • PGDip Contemporary Ethics

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.

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

In this introduction to themes in ethical theory, you will study major influences on ethical debate (relativism, utilitarianism, Kantianism, virtue ethics), the distinctive contributions of Christian ethics, law and morality, conscience and human rights.

Moral Development, Reasoning and Decision Making
Investigate the meaning, role and patterns of moral growth through the study of selected psychological theories of ego, cognitive and affective development, and ideas of moral growth in virtue ethics. You will test the models of moral development and decision-making against chosen stories of moral life, real or fictional.

Optional modules

Ethical Issues Today
Consider contemporary ethical issues including the environment, mass media, war and peace, political obligations, global inequalities, work and professionalism, and 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.
Moral Imagination, Art and Spirituality
Explore the connections between ethics, spirituality and art. You will study the meaning and role of moral imagination and use it as a tool for addressing the complexities of the moral-spiritual realities as represented in literary and visual works of art.
Spirituality, Religion and Ethics in Contemporary Healthcare

Expand your understanding of spiritual, religious and ethical issues which are not normally part of medical formation. Explore such concepts as the human person, the meaning of life, care and justice, and examine the bases of (and difficulties with) the language of human dignity, sickness, health, stigma and vulnerability.

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. Address such questions as ‘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?

Taught as a three-day intensive