Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit covers the principles of good scientific conduct in research. It has a specific focus on the ethical conduct of research on human participants, but also provides an overview of animal ethics. The unit emphasises the importance of honesty and integrity in science and provides students with an introduction to the ethical basis of scientific requirements such as careful data management and documentation, dealing with conflicts of interest, open publication versus commercialisation of scientific findings, protection of intellectual property, authorship and allocation of credit, errors and mistakes in science.

The unit then covers ethical issues dealing specifically with humans in research, including the four basic principles (research merit and integrity, justice, beneficence, and respect) and their historical origins; assessment of research benefits versus risk to the participants; risk minimisation; the importance and principles of informed consent; maintenance of participant confidentiality, including de-identification and storage of information and/or biological samples; and working with vulnerable groups.

Students are taught to understand the role and function of institutional ethics committees and important issues for a researcher in working with ethics committees; understand the importance of written and oral consent forms and information sheets; and be aware of current national and local policies and/or guidelines for good ethical conduct. They are presented with representative ethics applications in order to identify and discuss ethical issues that arise in the research world.

Students demonstrate in-depth knowledge of one or more complex ethical areas which may be directly relevant to their honours or postgraduate research project, i.e. animal ethics, dealing with vulnerable or dependent populations (e.g. research on fetuses or pregnant women; infants and children; adults unable to give informed consent; research involving limited disclosure, concealment or deception; human stem cell research, etc).

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2OnlineOnline flexible

Students are able to (1) describe the responsibility of conducting research ethically that complies with legislative requirements; (2) practise stringency and confidentiality in maintaining research documentation, data management and analysis; (3) describe the issues surrounding publication, authorship, intellectual property and commercialisation; (4) assess and explain the anticipated benefits versus potential risks of a given research project; (5) discuss the importance of concepts such as respect, beneficence and justice in the conduct of research involving humans; (6) explain the requirements of a research study to a potential participant, including participants from vulnerable populations; (7) critically review literature in their proposed field of research; and (8) provide a rationale for their proposed research study and clearly outline the aims or research questions that will be addressed on completion of their research project.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research integrity assignment and (2) ethics essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Sunalene Devadason
Unit rules
enrolment in
a relevant honours
or postgraduate course
Contact hours
online modules only
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.