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Course Descriptions

Program in Bioethics

Center for Biomedical Ethics
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 800758
Charlottesville, VA 22908-0758
(434) 924-8274 Fax: (434) 982-3971
Jonathan D. Moreno, Director:

General Information The M.A. in Bioethics is a joint degree of the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). Faculty are drawn primarily from Law, Medicine, Nursing, Philosophy, Religious Studies and Business. Each student will have a core faculty advisor to guide program planning and course selection.

M.A. Steering Committee and Core Faculty John D. Arras (Philosophy), Richard J. Bonnie (Law), James F. Childress (Religious Studies, Steering Committee Chair), Claire Cronmiller (Biology), Walt Davis (Biomedical Ethics), Ann Hamric (Nursing), Paul A. Lombardo, (Biomedical Ethics and Law), Margaret E. Mohrmann (Medicine), Jonathan D. Moreno (Biomedical Ethics), Lynn Noland, (Nursing). Jonathan D. Moreno, Kornfeld Professor and Director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics, is director of the M.A. degree program.

Intended Audience This MA program is not, in and of itself, intended as preparation for a career in bioethics. Therefore, admission preference will be given to those for whom this program would be related to their concurrent or subsequent pursuit of a terminal degree (e.g., M.D., M.S.N., J.D., or Ph.D.), or those who intend to return to an established position. Exceptions may be made for highly qualified applicants.

Application Procedure Students admitted to the University of Virginia Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Law may apply to this program concurrent with their degree program. Applicants should: a) request that their other school (e.g., the School of Law) send a copy of their application to the GSAS Admissions Office. Along with their GSAS application, all applicants should enclose: (a) a personal statement of 500 words about their motivation to pursue this degree and plans for the future use of the required knowledge and skills; and (b) a writing sample from a course on bioethics or applied ethics or write and submit a 500-word essay on the relationship between autonomy and beneficence in contemporary bioethics.

Other interested persons may obtain an application at In addition to the written materials described above, an applicant’s scores from the Graduate Record Examination (within 5 years) are required. An applicant may petition to substitute other national test scores (e.g., the LSATs or MCATs, if taken with 5 years) for the GRE.

Fellowship Support A limited amount of fellowship support may be available, distributed at the discretion of the Steering Committee. This support generally involves modest service to the program, to be arranged in consultation with the program director.

Degree Requirements 24 credits plus a thesis (6 credits) prepared so as to be publishable after editing, or 30 credits of courses.

Required courses The M.A. in Bioethics requires 15 credits in Foundations of Bioethics, Clinical Ethics (which should be taken in the fall-spring sequence), and 3 Group I courses.

Foundations of Bioethics All students must take Foundations of Bioethics (3 credits, Moreno and staff), which introduces the central problems and issues addressed by the field and the major concepts, methods, and ethical perspectives that bioethics brings to bear on these problems and issues.

Clinical Ethics All students must take Clinical Ethics, which introduces the central ethical problems and issues that arise in the clinical setting.

Group I courses All students must take at least 3 Group I courses on specific problems and issues addressed by the field of bioethics. These courses are listed below. Selection of these 3 credit courses will be guided by the student’s area of concentration and discipline.

Biology requirement Students needing more background in human biology and medicine must pass Human Biology 121 (non-credit) and/or pass a required study course and examination in basic pathophysiology and anatomy. These decisions will be made in the admission and advising process.

Electives The remainder of credits for the M.A. in Bioethics may be taken from any of the remaining Group I courses or other courses offered at the university with the approval of the program director.

Group I

PHIL 565 Justice and Health Care

PHIL 559 Research Ethics

PHIL 553 Reproductive Ethics

REL 578 Ethical Issues in Human Genetics

LAW3 624 "Death, Dying, and the Law"

RELG 541 Human Bodies and Their Parts as Property

RELG 814 History of Bioethics: The Great Cases

RELG 806 Bioethics and Health Care Law

RELG 834 Methods in Ethics

ANTH 728 Anthropology of the Body: Violence, Terror and Pain

GSAS 510 U.S. Healthcare System, cross-listed with HES 710

GNUR 706 Nursing Ethics for Advanced Practice

LAW5 709 Public Health, Ethics and Law

RELG 550 Love and Justice

RELG 265 Theology, Ethics, and Medicine (Graduate Section)

LAW3 688 Law and Medicine

LAW4 604 Mental Health Law

PHIL 751 Ethics

PHIL 752 Contemporary Ethics

PHIL 757 Political Philosophy

PHIL 706 Contemporary Political Philosophy

PHIL 818 Kant’s Ethics

PHIL 816 Hume’s Ethics

GBUS 902 Foundations of Business Ethics

GBUS 909 Contemporary Issues in Business Ethics

Program Location The program is located in the Center for Biomedical Ethics in the School of Medicine.

The Steering Committee reports to the Deans of the Schools of Medicine, Law, and Nursing and to the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Course Descriptions


BIOE 810 - (3) (Y)
Foundations in Bioethics

Introduces the central problems and issues addressed by the field and the major concepts, methods, and ethical perspectives that bioethics brings to bear on these problems and issues.

BIOE 811 - (3) (Y)
Clinical Ethics

Explores some of the major ethical issues that arise in clinical medicine and provides an introduction to methods used in the clinical and research settings to address these issues. Discussion of how the basic principles of biomedical ethics apply in specific clinical situations and an examination of the cases that demonstrate commonly encountered dilemmas.

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