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.

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Unit Overview


This unit focuses on a set of related questions concerning life and death such as—Is it rational to fear death? What, if anything, gives human beings a special moral status? Do any other animals have a similar status? Is it morally acceptable to kill them for food? Is euthanasia, the killing of those who are incurably ill and in great pain or distress, for their own sake, morally justified? If so, under what circumstances exactly? What is the moral status of abortion? Students become familiar with some of the most influential works on such questions. As well as learning about such substantive issues, students also deepen their understanding of ethical reasoning in general, and sharpen their ability to understand, evaluate and construct arguments.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics; Science and Technology in Society major sequences
  • Level 2 option in the Philosophy; Humanities in Health and Medicine; Human Rights major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) locate global moral issues in their historical and cultural context; (2) independently interpret philosophical texts; (3) evaluate philosophical positions, including identifying counter-examples and identifying and questioning their basic assumptions; (4) compare and contrast philosophical positions; (5) construct persuasive arguments; (6) demonstrate strong written communication and research skills; (7) gain knowledge about arguments in favor of, and in opposition to, abortion, euthanasia and animal vivisection; (8) explain influential philosophical views concerning the meaning of life and the harm of death; and (9) reason in a constructive and cooperative way about some of the most polarising moral issues.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) final exam; (2) term paper; and (3) weekly reading responses. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Kaz Bland and Jorge Mendonca
Unit rules
any level 1 unit in the Bachelor of Arts, or equivalent
PHIL2201 Social Ethics: Life and Death
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
tutorials: 1 hour per week
  • 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.