Spring 2020 - HSCI 319W D100

Applied Health Ethics (3)

Class Number: 2168

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    AQ 3182, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 21, 2020
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    SSCB 9200, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine HSCI units, one of which must be a 200 division course.



Practical ethical and legal issues in health sciences, emphasizing population and public health. Case studies approach highlighting current ethical dilemmas and decision-making in the context of global to local legal frameworks. HSCI 319 is identical to PHIL 319 and students cannot receive credit for both courses Writing.


We will explore ethical issues in health sciences, emphasizing population level health. Since any fruitful discussion of ethical issues requires a background in ethical theory, canonical theories within ethics and the frameworks that apply these theories to the context of public health, will be covered early in the course.

Following this, students will learn to apply these ethical theories to particular issues within public health, such as the conflict between public health and individual autonomy, the just distribution of health resources, and responsibility for health outcomes.

The aim of this course is to provide students with tools to discuss and assess ethical arguments and to form their own views on debates within population and public health. Students will be expected to write position papers, engage in critical analysis, and participate actively in classroom discussions on a variety of topics.


  •   Ethical Theory 

  •   Public Health Ethics Frameworks 

  •   Autonomy, Responsibility, and Paternalism 

  •   Justice, Inequality, and Health 

  •   Coercion, Privacy, and Infectious Disease 

  •   Genetics and Health

TEACHING FORMAT: Each week there will be:

1) A two-hour meeting that will consist of lectures and some discussion;
2) A one-hour tutorial that will include a review of the lecture, discussion of readings, and small group activities.


The field of public health ethics demands that practitioners are able to:

  • write clear overviews of the ethical dimensions of applications of public health policy. 
  • produce arguments for specific ethical positions and defend these positions against critique.

Writing assignments will help develop the above skills by requiring clear presentations of responses to ethical dilemmas in public health that are well supported with appropriate theoretical arguments.

In all assignments, students will be encouraged and directed in the use of charitable language and argumentation that is respectful of contrary positions. The goal of this charitable interpretation is to foster reasonable and progressive dialogue, rather than the destructive process of solely refuting others’ arguments


  • Online Discussion 5%
  • Wiki Article 5%
  • Wiki Revisions 5%
  • Midterm Exam 15%
  • First Paper 20%
  • Final Paper First Draft 5%
  • Quiz 10%
  • Final Paper Final Draft 30%
  • Participation and Attendance 5%


Students will receive feedback on the wiki assignment, both formal papers, and the midterm examination. Students will also peer-edit the wiki assignment in keeping with the collaborative nature of Wikis.

Class participation makes up 5% of the final grade and will be measured equally by attendance and active participation in tutorials. Active participation in tutorials will be assessed according to the student's constructive engagement in class discussions, incorporation of class readings, and willingness to foster a positive exchange of ideas.



Stephen Holland, Public Health Ethics, 2nd Ed. (Cambridge).
ISBN: 0745662196

Ruth Bernheim, James Childress, Richard Bonnie, and Alan Melnick, Essentials of Public Health Ethics 
(Jones and Bartlett Learning).
ISBN: 0763780464

Canvas: Canvas will be used to organize class materials - links to online readings from a variety of materials, discussion of ethics related topics, and PowerPoint slides used during lectures.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html