PUB HLTH 1006 - Saving lives or respecting rights? An introduction to health ethics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2019

Should you be able to choose the gender of your baby? Should a doctor ever withhold information from a patient at the family's request? Should the government pay smokers to quit? Should risky behaviours reduce your fair share of health care resources? Should researchers in developed countries conduct research with populations in developing countries? These are some of the fascinating ethical questions this course will equip you to answer. You will explore ethical issues ranging from the individual to the global level, and learn to analyse and resolve these issues using major ethical theories and principles. In this way, you will come to appreciate that a tension sometimes exists between saving lives and respecting rights.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PUB HLTH 1006
    Course Saving lives or respecting rights? An introduction to health ethics
    Coordinating Unit Public Health
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Course Description Should you be able to choose the gender of your baby? Should a doctor ever withhold information from a patient at the family's request? Should the government pay smokers to quit? Should risky behaviours reduce your fair share of health care resources? Should researchers in developed countries conduct research with populations in developing countries? These are some of the fascinating ethical questions this course will equip you to answer. You will explore ethical issues ranging from the individual to the global level, and learn to analyse and resolve these issues using major ethical theories and principles. In this way, you will come to appreciate that a tension sometimes exists between saving lives and respecting rights.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Simon Coghlan

    Course Coordinator: Dr Simon Coghlan
    Phone: +61 8313
    Email: simon.coghlan@adelaide.edu.au
    Location: Level 3 Helen Mayo North

    Student & Program Support Services Hub
    Email: askhealthsc@adelaide.edu.au
    Phone: +61 8313 0273

    Program Advisor’s booking system
    bit.ly/spss-hub-bookings

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Analyse ethical problems in health care practice and policy.
    2 Explain relevant ethical theories and concepts.
    3 Synthesise relevant information and ideas.
    4 Critique arguments using evidence and theory.
    5 Defend a proposed course of action.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1-5
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1, 3-5
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    1, 2, 4, 5
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1-5
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    1-5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    1-5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    A course reader and web-links will be made available through MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    Will be made available through MyUni.
    Online Learning
    MyUni is the primary entry point to online learning at the University of Adelaide. MyUni provides students and staff with access to   course materials, discussion forums, announcements, and many other features to help manage learning and teaching. You can connect to MyUni on or off campus from an internet-connected computer using a Web browser. The URL is:  http://www.adelaide.edu.au/myuni/ Login to this resource using your Username and Password. Once logged onto MyUni, you will find the information displayed is customised to present only details relevant to you and the online content for courses that you are studying.

    For enquiries, contact MyUni Support https://www.adelaide.edu.au/myuni/
    Phone: (08) 8313 3000
    E-mail: helpdesk@adelaide.edu.au
    The Helpdesk is available for extended hours during the week or through voicemail.

    You will use MyUni for a number of purposes:
    Accessing announcements about changes in scheduling, course information etc. please check MyUni regularly as they contain   important announcements that are relevant to your study in this course.

    Resources to support the workshop materials and SGDE will be provided on MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will introduce students to the identification, analysis and resolution of ethical issues in health care practice and policy. Seminar presentations and videos will introduce students to key topics, concepts and theories, and model the analysis and resolution of ethical issues. Flipped classrooms, tutorials and Small-Group Discovery Experiences will draw on this content to develop students’ capacity to synthesise relevant information and ideas, and make and critically evaluate arguments using logic, evidence and theory. 

    The course will be delivered in three-hour blocks – a two-hour seminar; and a one-hour tutorial.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Contact hours: 3 hours per week, plus readings, assignments etc
    Learning Activities Summary
    Conceptual organisation:
    The course is organised around three elements in combination:
    1. A layered model of health determinants, ranging from the genetic level to the global level
    2. The recurring question ‘What should we do, and why?’
    3. The ethical theories of utilitarianism (saving lives) , liberalism (respecting rights) with some reference to communitarianism

    The course will progressively equip students with ethical theories and principles by addressing specific ethical questions about  specific health care practices and policies. The course will comprise a journey from the heart of the layered model of health  determinants outwards, answering ethical questions at each layer by drawing on ethical theories.  Students will be presented with  ethical issues at each layer of the model, beginning with genetic factors.  In relation to each issue, students will be asked to  answer the recurring question ‘What should we do, and why?’

    To help the students answer this question, they will be taught to apply, and balance, the perspectives of utilitarianism, liberalism  and communitarianism.  These theories will be supplemented as appropriate; for example, at the inner, more individual layers of  the model of health determinants, the theories will be supplemented with the four principles of biomedical ethics (respect for  autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice).  Communitarianism will be introduced later in the course, when the focus is  on the outer, more communal layers of the model. At the end of the course, all of the theory will be briefly consolidated.  

    Content to be covered with example topics:
    Genetics - Genetic screening and technologies
    Individual behaviour - Incentivising good health; personal responsibility and scarce health care resources
    Families - Conflicts involving patients’ families; autonomous decision making and adolescents
    Local communities - Community engagement in health decision making; school health programs
    Living and working conditions - Health professionals’ responsibilities; ethical issues in hospital services; health promotion campaigns
    National policy - government paternalism and the nanny state; fat taxes; resource allocation
    Global community - health research in developing countries (e.g. pharmaceutical trials); international quarantine policies and  practices; global pharmaceutical pricing; climate change policy
    Specific Course Requirements
    N/A
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Students will be put into groups and assigned a mentor.  The group will be mentored to prepare for a debate on an   ethical issue in health care practice or policy.  The group will be assigned the ‘for’ or ‘against’ side and a specific ethical issue, which will be compatible with lecture material. Three students will prepare arguments to be delivered, while two students will provide  rebuttals on the day. The debate will proceed, bringing two small groups together to debate one another, and this will occur in front  of other small groups, stimulating broader group discussion of the issues.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment  Type Weighting Learning course objective(s) being addressed
    Online quizzes Summative 10% 2
    Tutorial paper and facilitation Summative 20% 1-4
    Group performance in SDGE Summative 20% 1-5
    Essay Summative 50% 1-5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    None.
    Assessment Detail
    Students will be required to complete online quizzes worth a total of 10% of the final grade.  The  quizzes will assess the students’ understanding of ethics and ethical theories.

    Each student will be required to submit a 500-word tutorial paper comprising an ethical analysis in one of their tutorials.  They will also facilitate the tutorial, with support from the tutor. The tutorial paper and facilitation of the tutorial will each count for 5% of the final grade. Active partcipation in tutorials will be assessed throughout the semester and will count for 10%.

    For the SGDE, students will be placed in small groups, assigned a mentor and mentored to prepare for a debate on an ethical  issue in health care practice or policy.  Each group will be assigned the ‘for’ or ‘against’ side of a specific ethical issue, which will be compatible with lecture material.   The debate will bring two small groups together to debate one another, and this will occur in  front of other small groups. Students will be assessed as a group on the quality of their debate performance, with an emphasis on  the strength of their ethical analysis and argumentation. The group performance will be assessed using a rubric tailored to the course  learning outcomes (see attachment).  Students will receive a single group mark.

    Students will be required to submit a 1500-word essay comprising an ethical analysis on one of several topics.
    Submission
    Extensions
    All extensions for assignments must be requested, at the latest, by the last working day before the due date of submission.   Extensions will generally be granted only on medical or genuine compassionate grounds.  Supporting documentation must be  provided at the time a student requests an extension.  Without documentation, extensions will not be granted.  Late requests for  extension will neither be accepted nor acknowledged.

    Only the Course Co-ordinator(s) may grant extensions.

    Supporting documentation will be required when requesting an extension. Examples of documents that are acceptable include: a  medical certificate that specifies dates of incapacity, a police report (in the case of lost computers, car & household theft etc.), a  letter from a Student Counsellor, Education and Welfare Officer (EWO) or Disability Liaison Officer that provides an assessment of  compassionate circumstances, or a letter from an independent external counsellor or appropriate professional able to verify the  student’s situation.  The length of any extension granted will take into account the period and severity of any incapacity or impact  on the student.  Extensions of more than 10 days will not be granted except in exceptional circumstances.

    Late submission
    Marks will be deducted when assignments for which no extension has been granted are handed in late.

    All assignments, including those handed in late, will be assessed on their merits.  In the case of late assignments where no extension has been granted, 5 percentage points of the total marks possible per day will be deducted.  If an assignment that is 2  days late is awarded 65% on its merits, the mark will then be reduced by 10% (5% per day for 2 days) to 55%.  If that same  assignment is 4 days late, the mark will be reduced by 20% (5% per day for 4 days) to 45%, and so on.

    The School of Public Health reserves the right to refuse to accept an assignment that is more than 7 days late.

    Assignments submitted after the due date may not be graded in time to be returned on the listed return dates.

    Students submitting examinable written work who request (and receive) an extension that takes them beyond the examination  period are advised that there is no guarantee that their grades will be processed in time to meet usual University deadlines.

    Resubmission
    If a student is dissatisfied with an assessment grade they should follow the StudentGrievance Resolution Process  https://www.adelaide.edu.au/student/grievance/process/>.  Students who are not satisfied with a particular assessment result should raise their concerns with Course Co-ordinator(s) in the first instance.  This must be done within 10 business days of the  date of notification of the result.  Resubmission of any assignment is subject to the agreement of the Course Co-ordinator(s) and  will only be permitted for the most compelling of reasons.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.