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Ethics of Ageing (POPH90260)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5Online

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codePOPH90260
Term 2 - Online
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject provides an overview of some of the key ethical issues associated with ageing across the lifespan, with an emphasis on their societal dimensions and implications for policy and professional practice. The skills and knowledge gained by students completing this subject will enhance their ability to engage with the health, social and economic issues of ageing encountered throughout the Masters of Ageing curriculum.

Students will be introduced to bioethical theory and its application in analysis, evaluation and decision making. Martha Nussbaum's account of capabilities for human flourishing will be used to frame the exploration of a number of key issues organized within thematic units of "justice", "autonomy" and "dignity". A final unit will explore ethical issues pertaining to the human quest for "immortality".

Topics covered include diverse historical and cultural perspectives on common ethical issues of ageing; ethical principles for health professionals, care givers and institutions providing for the elderly; age as a criterion for health resource allocation; age-based discrimination and bias in clinical decision-making and employment; international and intergenerational obligations in the context of care giving; and life extension and suspension modalities such as fertility preservation, transplantation and cloning.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  • Recognise and explain basic elements of ethical theory and frameworks, as well as major ethical issues of relevance to ageing persons and populations.
  • Demonstrate an informed understanding of key ethical principles and concepts including autonomy; justice, beneficence, non-maleficence and human dignity.
  • Critically analyse an ethical issue in ageing through identification of relevant ethical concepts and principles, and evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of arguments in the debate.
  • Formulate a reflective argument outlining a proposed solution to an ethical dilemma.

Generic skills

Students will be provided with the opportunity to practice and reinforce:

  • Enhanced skills in critical thinking and analysis of issues in public policy and practice from an ethical perspective.
  • Advanced oral and written communication skills.
  • Advanced skills in reasoning, persuasion and effective argumentation.
  • Ability to identify, evaluate and integrate ethical theory with empirical knowledge in public health and social policy and practice.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Contribution to online participation thoroughout the teaching period (10%)
  • Five minute online presentation held in the middle of the teaching period (10%)
  • 1,500 word reflective essay due in the middle of the teaching period (30%)
  • 2,500 word reflective essay due at the end of the teaching period (50%)

Dates & times

  • Term 2 - Online
    Principal coordinatorRos McDougall
    Mode of deliveryOnline
    Contact hours
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Pre teaching start date22 April 2019
    Pre teaching requirementsDuring the pre-teaching period students are given the opportunity to get used to the online platform, meet the instructors/tutors and become familiar with how to access resources before the teaching period starts.
    Teaching period29 April 2019 to 23 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date23 April 2019
    Census date17 May 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail 7 June 2019
    Assessment period ends30 June 2019

    Term 2 contact information

    Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education Email: continuing-education@unimelb.edu.au Phone: + 61 3 8344 0149 Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm AEST/AEDT. Weekends and University of Melbourne observed Public Holidays 10am to 5pm AEST/AEDT.

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

Last updated: 3 April 2019