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Bioethics core courses (compulsory)
This course offers an overview of theoretical approaches to bioethics, presented through a narrative examination of how the field has evolved over the past 50 years. Moral theories, including principlism, utilitarianism, and right-based approaches are examined in relation to critical responses to these theories, including feminist ethics, virtue theory, and social science critiques of bioethics. Questions related to the objectivity of morality and how we might access knowledge about moral truths lead into critical discussions of the appropriate theoretical and methodological tools with which to address bioethical dilemmas. Readings are drawn from moral theory, meta-ethics, empirical ethics, anthropology, and sociology. Students gain the skills to read difficult texts engaging with foundational issues in bioethics, critically evaluate arguments, methodologies, and boundaries within the field, and write their own responses to key questions related to bioethics theory.
Course restricted to students registered in the Master’s Specialization in Bioethics Program. Weekly seminars and 4 hours per week supervised placement/observation within healthcare settings (e.g., critical care, out-patient clinic, ethics committees, Grand Rounds, meetings with health professionals). Students will critically assess common and complex ethical issues in health care practice (e.g., advance directives, caring for patients with uncertain capacity, children’s healthcare, consent, ethical decision-making about potentially life-sustaining interventions, medical assistance in dying) and frameworks for managing ethical issues in healthcare organizations, including tools for ethical assessment and problem-solving and strategies for ethics case consultation. The goal of the course is to help students to integrate theoretical knowledge/concepts acquired in assigned readings and previous theory courses with the daily realities of healthcare practice. Assignments will emphasize students’ communication of ethical analyses to healthcare audiences.
Bioethics elective courses
This seminar covers: the philosophical and ethical foundations of law applied in medicine (e.g., fault, systemic forms of liability, patient rights, informed consent); legal structures and their impact on health care (e.g., adversarial procedure, contingent fees, juries, damage awards, the role of experts); law and ethics of the health care professions; administrative and legal control of health care systems; and other selected legal-ethical issues.
Religious Studies : The seminar will discuss a variety of topics related to medicine and religion from the point of view of ethics, such as the pact of care between a patient and a physician, the Hippocratic oath, the notions of autonomy and vulnerability, the definitions of personhood and human dignity, the question of rights for people with cognitive disabilities, the debate about the role of religion in bioethics.
This is an advanced seminar in biomedical ethics. Topics discussed include the nature of health and of disease and the relationship of patients to medical practitioners (including matters of confidentiality, truth-telling, and competency). In dealing with these and other issues an effort is made to speak to the question of cultural, social, political and legal relativity of judgements in biomedical ethics. This is a research ethics course.
In this graduate-level course, students critically assess ethical dilemmas and policy considerations raised by the theory and practice of public health. Specific topics include: measuring and defining health; surveillance and privacy; preparedness, quarantine, and distribution of resources during a health emergency; health inequalities; and genetics and racial categorization in public health.
Course materials draw on a wide range of disciplines, including epidemiology, medicine, history, sociology, and anthropology. Students from any disciplinary background are welcome; there are no prerequisites. Undergraduates are welcome to take the course with the permission of the instructor. Coursework includes reviewing scholarly literature, formal presentation and debate, and written work.
General elective courses
Students wishing to obtain a registration permit should email Cindy Tao grad.hq [at] mcgill.ca or dept.humangenetics [at] mcgill.ca with a copy to Professor Joly.
Offered in the:
Thesis credits (Human Genetics students)
NOTE: Thesis credits do not constitute actual courses, you do not need to attend any further classes; the actual thesis is the work for these credits. They can be taken at any time during the program, as long as they are completed before the Initial Thesis Submission. Must only register for the above courses once, no duplication permitted.