University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Public Policy and Ethics at the Edges of Human Life

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION How should law respond to the moral dilemmas posed by today’s advances in life sciences and biotechnology? What is the relationship between law and morals? Should an action considered ethically objectionable be legally banned? Do religious communities have the right to participate in the liberal and democratic State’s responsibility to formulate public policies on biotechnology?

This study-unit focuses on a range of vitally important issues relating to human reproductive technologies, prenatal screening and counseling, sex-selection, pre-implantation and pre-symptomatic genetic diagnosis, the moral and legal status of the human embryo, abortion, experimentation on human embryos and fetuses, withholding and withdrawing of life-sustaining treatment, living wills or advanced directives, brain death, euthanasia, geriatric issues.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: By the end of the course the student should:

a) become aware of the relationship between law and morals
b) understand the contribution of both secular and religious perspectives on the ethical issues raised by today’s biotechnology
c) learn to argue on the ethical issues at the beginning and end of human life.


- EVANS, D (ed.), Conceiving the Embryo, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1996.
- GORMALLY L. (ed.), Euthanasia, Clinical Practice and the Law, Linacre Centre, London, 1994.
- HAKER H. & BEYLEVELD D., The Ethics of Genetics in Human Procreation, Ashgate, 2002.
- JONES David Albert, The Soul of the Embryo, Continuum, London, 2004
- KUHSE H. & Singer P. (eds.), A Companion to Bioethics, Blackwell, Oxford, 1998.
- KUHSE H. & SINGER P., (ed.), Bioethics. An Anthology, Blackwell, Oxford, 1999.
- THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL ON BIOETHICS, Taking Care Washington, D.C. 2005.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation Yes 40%
Assignment Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Emmanuel Agius

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
Measuring Divinity - Inter Faculty Colloquium
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21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017
The 21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017 will be celebrated on the 5th and 6th December 2017 with two lectures delivered by Rev. Prof. Theodore Dieter.

Closing Date Dissertation Proposals
Deadline to present dissertation proposals for next Faculty Board is Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 1700hrs

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

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Dissertation Logbook
The Dissertation Logbook can be found here.


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