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Ethics, Health & Society: Emerging Responsibilities


Admission requirements



This course will introduce students to major moral puzzles and challenges in the field of global public health. The first section of the course provides an introduction to key frameworks and concepts relevant to public health ethics and describes the overlap and distinctions between public health and medical ethics. The remainder of the course considers ethical dilemmas across the following domains: 1) resource allocation and distributive justice; 2) conflicts between individual rights and the common good; 3) health promotion & disease prevention; 4) tensions between market forces and social justice; and 5) research involving human subjects.

Based on above domains and drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives, case studies from the fields of science and technology, energy and environment, agriculture, information and communication, robotics (including military robots), reproductive and biomedical technologies, human enhancement, and biosecurity will be examined.

Course Objectives


  • Critically evaluate methods and techniques used in global health ethics studies and related disciplines to address issues of health, and society

  • Develop self-awareness of personal values and biases and their effect on ethical practice

  • Describe how your understanding of ethics has grown and how you will apply your learning as a moral agent with the power and skills to participate in ethical decision making


  • Describe important historical events that have shaped ethical guidelines for public health research and practice

  • Reflect upon the impact of social and biological determinants of health, available resources, and the perspectives of community stakeholders when deciding on ethical courses of action


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2020-2021 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course aims to provide students with the skills necessary for analyzing and contributing meaningfully to current debates in global public health from an ethics perspective. The course uses a blend of lectures, group projects, and group discussions to consider topics of interest, often taking a case-based approach. Students play an active role in researching, presenting, and analyzing case studies that are used to illustrate ethical concepts and conflicts and to facilitate class discussion.

Assessment Method

Critical reflection journal, read & respond, weekly student led discussion, 19%
Group project, 30%
Individual Assignment, 19%
Written Exam, 32%

Reading list



Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. M.J. Cho,