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 one or more areas in ethical theory. Topics may include, but are not limited to, metaethics, normative ethics, applied ethics, value theory, moral epistemology. The unit may provide a survey or academic writing on a particular topic, or it may involve a close reading of a new or influential text in ethical theory.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Honours option in Philosophy; Philosophy, Politics and Economics [Bachelor of Arts (Honours)]

Students are able to (1) strengthen generic intellectual skills such as analysing and critically assessing arguments, constructing and expressing arguments of one's own, and constructing and expressing explanations of phenomena; (2) have a critical understanding of a range of philosophical problems that arise with topics in advanced ethical theory—for instance, epistemological status of moral facts, the self-effacing character of consequentialist theories, and the problem of reconciling the fact-stating character of moral sentences, with their action-guiding function; (3) have an understanding of some of the most influential contemporary ethical theories such as moral realism, constructivism, expressivism, consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics; and (4) critically address questions that arise in ethical theory, such as the following: Does anything matter to the rightness of an action beyond its consequences? What role does human nature play in grounding a standard of human wellbeing, and ethical obligation? Can obligations to our fellow human beings be understood as grounded in actual or hypothetical agreements between rational appraisers? How is ethical knowledge possible? Is there room for objective ethical facts in a scientific picture of the world?.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) an essay; (2) a one-hour examination; and (3) participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

To pass this unit, a student must: (a) achieve an overall mark of 50 per cent or higher for the unit; and (b) achieve the requisite requirements(s) or a mark of 50 per cent or greater, whichever is higher and specified in the unit outline, for the participation component.

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

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Nin Kirkham
Unit rules
sufficient units in the relevant major at the specified standard for entry to the honours specialisation
Contact hours
seminars: 1 x 2 hours per week for up to 12 weeks
  • 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.