• Class Number 4671
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Nathan Emmerich
    • Dr Nathan Emmerich
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
SELT Survey Results

This course will provide an introduction to bioethics as an academic field of social, cultural and political significance. Beginning with its inception in the late 1960’s, this course will commence with a historical overview of the fields or disciplines development. Subsequently we will consider a number of substantive topics of bioethical concern, and do so from a range of disciplinary perspectives, thereby attempting to 'go beyond' the limits of applied bioethical thought. Concepts and definitions of life and death will be discussed in the context of contemporary bioethical discourse. We will then explore the phenomenon of medicalisation in which human conditions and problems come to be defined and treated as medical conditions. This will then be taken up in the context of bioethical speculations regarding ‘love drugs.’ Looking to the future, we will explore emerging bioethical challenges brought by rapid advances in technology and medicine as well as interrelated social changes and cultural developments. Having taken this course you will have a good grasp of bioethics as an academic field, as an influential mode of thought that not only shapes the way we understand the life sciences and healthcare but also contributes to the way we shape ourselves and our moral culture(s). You will also be in a position to appreciate the fact that our collective responses to these issues will fundamentally shape our future existence.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the historical and intellectual origins of bioethics and the benefits and limitations of an interdisciplinary approach.
  2. Define historical and current theoretical and conceptual definitions of life and death and their role within contemporary bioethical discourse(s).
  3. Demonstrate increased capacity to critically evaluate bioethical issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives as presented in academic and non-academic discourses.
  4. Review, appraise and critically engage with the phenomenon of bio/medicalisation and its relationship with the way human conditions, identities and behaviors are understood.
  5. Identify and reflect upon the bioethical challenges that result from rapid and unpredictable advancements in the biosciences, biotechnology and medicine and their influence on the (bio)political landscape.
  6. Discuss the (bio)political role of bioethics in regulating and governing biotechnologies, biomedical practices and critically reflect upon the way in which these forces shape the socio-cultural contexts we inhabit.

Research-Led Teaching

This course is a reflection of Dr Nathan Emmerich current research that is concerned with bioethics as an object and activity. This work seeks to develop a reflexive grasp of the field’s constitution and purpose; its nature (a socio-cultural field that exists both within and beyond the academy) and the ends it seeks to fulfil (primarily, the ethical regulation of biomedicine, the biosciences and biotechnologies). This is reflected in the course which positions bioethics as an ethico-political phenomenon embedded in contemporary, modern, and scientific societies or cultures.

All information about required readings and additional bibliographical information will be provided via Wattle.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Comments on their first assessed essay
  • Comments on their draft essay plan
  • In person discussion of their work/ assessments either in class or by appointment

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Referencing requirements

 As long as you are consistent within each individual assessment, you may use any standard referencing format, such as Harvard or Chicago.

Adjustments to delivery in 2020

Course delivery and assessment in 2020 was adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any information below that replaces what was published in the Class Summary for Semester 1, 2020 was approved by the Associate Dean Education (as is required after 10% commencement of a course). Where an activity or assessment is not referenced below, it remains unchanged.

Teaching Activities

  • Lectures moved onto Zoom.


Adjustments were made to assignment due dates; for details see the course Wattle site.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Seminar 1: Bioethical Beginnings: A History of the Field All session 3 hour seminars including a range of activities including ‘lecture’, discussions and planning coursework.
2 Seminar 2: Conceptual issues in Bioethics: Issues in Defining Death (and Life)
3 Seminar 3: Bioethical Developments 1: An Introduction to Applied Ethics
4 Seminar 4: Bioethical Developments 2: The Multi-Disciplines of Bioethics.
5 Seminar 5: Exemplary Bioethics: The Beginnings and Ends of Life
6 Seminar 6: de/Medicalization.
7 Seminar 7: Bioethics and Medicalization: Love as a Drug; Intervening in Sexuality
8 Seminar 8: Sex, Gender and Sexuality
9 Seminar 9: Between Treatment and Enhancement
10 Seminar 10: Eugenics: Past and Future?
11 Seminar 11: Post/ Tranhumanism
12 Seminar 12: From Bioethical Questions to Biopolitical Problems

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Essay 1 30 % 16/03/2020 23/03/2020 1,2,3
Essay plan (for Essay 2) 25 % 18/05/2020 25/05/2020 3,4
Essay 2 45 % 04/06/2020 02/07/2020 3,4,5,6

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Students are expected to attend lectures and contribute to discussions. When this is not possible students are expected to listen to the audio recording(s) of all lectures.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 16/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 23/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Essay 1

1,000 word essay on the Definition of Death.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 18/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 25/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Essay plan (for Essay 2)

 See essay titles detailed in Assessment 3

Assessment Task 3

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 04/06/2020
Return of Assessment: 02/07/2020
Learning Outcomes: 3,4,5,6

Essay 2

2,500 word essay on one of the topics below:

  • Medicalisation, what is it good for?
  • Is Love a Drug?
  • Is sex distinct from gender?
  • If we treat, should we enhance?
  • What is bioethics?

In each case students will plan their assessment 3 essays for assessment 2. They will be encouraged to specify their title and/ or outline the specific facet of the question they will be addressing. Students may elect to pursue a different topic by agreement with the course convenor.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Essays will be returned online.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission is not permitted

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Nathan Emmerich

Research Interests

Bioethics; Health and Healthcare; History of science; Science and Technology Studies; Sociology / Anthropology of medicine, health, illness

Dr Nathan Emmerich

Dr Nathan Emmerich
612 53422

Research Interests

Dr Nathan Emmerich

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions