Teaching plan for the course unit



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General information


Course unit name: Bioethics

Course unit code: 366691

Academic year: 2021-2022

Coordinator: Gemma Marfany Nadal

Department: Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics

Credits: 3

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 75


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Lecture







-  Practical exercises





(Practical cases)


-  Seminar






Supervised project


Independent learning




Competences to be gained during study



CG6. Communication skills (written and spoken).


CB5. Learning skills that are necessary to undertake further study with a high degree of autonomy.


CB4. Capacity to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.


CG2. Capacity for learning and responsibility (capacity for analysis and synthesis, to adopt global perspectives and to apply knowledge in practice, and capacity to take decisions and adapt to new situations).


CB3. Ability to gather and interpret relevant data (usually within the field of study) to inform judgements that include reflection on relevant social, scientific or ethical issues.


CE16. Capacity to provide reasoned explanations of the concept and general characteristics of disease, the mechanisms through which diseases develop, the personal and constitutional aspects of pathological reactions, the different types of diseases, the respective mechanisms of distribution, and the dynamic structure of different diseases, and a familiarity with the principal methods for the study and diagnosis of diseases, including epidemiology


CE18. Capacity to apply electronic, instrumental, analytical and molecular techniques and to work safely in a laboratory environment


CG1. Commitment to ethical practice (critical and self-critical capabilities/capacity to demonstrate attitudes consistent with accepted notions of ethical practice).

CG2. Capacity for learning and responsibility (capacity for analysis and synthesis, to adopt global perspectives and to apply knowledge in practice, and capacity to take decisions and adapt to new situations).

CG3. Ability to work as part of a team and to collaborate and contribute to a joint project, as well as to work in interdisciplinary and multicultural teams.

CG4. Creative and entrepreneurial skills (capacity to conceive, design and manage projects/capacity to research and integrate new knowledge and approaches).

CG5. Concern for sustainability (capacity to assess the ethical, social and environmental impact of actions taken in research / capacity to adopt integrated and systemic approaches).

CG6. Communication skills (written and spoken).

CG7. Ability to think critically, logically and creatively. Ability to analyze and synthesize.

CG8. Capacity for experimental design, research, and writing and analysis of results in the field.

CG9. Ability to relate new scientific advances to their scientific and social applications, as well as to their ethical impact.

CG10. Ability to communicate and transfer knowledge.

CG11. Ability to manage and organize one’s own time and capacity for self-learning.

Specific competences

CE1. Knowledge of the basic concepts of bioethics and its relationship with the applications of experimental science in biology and health.

CE2. Knowledge of fundamental aspects of bioethics in experimentation with animals, embryos, human samples and other data collected from humans.

CE3. Ability to understand the bioethical implications of current experimental techniques.

CE4. Capacity to read and critically analyze bioethical issues in the European and global context.

CE5. Participation in discussions and debates on science and ethics.

CE6. Ability to design research projects and understand the relevance of the bioethical issues involved.

CE7. Knowledge of the codes of good practices, integrity in research and the role of bioethics committees in research.



Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge

This subject is taught in English.

The main purpose of this subject is to raise awareness of the major bioethical issues relevant to the field of biology and experimental scientific research from different perspectives.

More specifically, the aims of this subject are to:

— Promote a critical attitude towards the need to consider bioethical aspects in scientific research.

— Think about global aspects of bioethics and whether global bioethics exist or should exist.

— Learn how to approach bioethical issues in research projects, their main principles, whether model animals are required in experimentation, if embryo cells, organoid or human samples are used, and how to collect and store personal data.

— Understand the bioethical implications in clinical trials on humans.

— Acquire knowledge of the relevance of bioethics committees and current legislation and regulations.

— Approach articles and documents on bioethics critically.



Teaching blocks


1. Lectures on bioethics

1.1. Bioethics; an introduction, origin and history

1.2. Bioethics; a view from the institutions and legal frameworks

1.3. Ethics in research: plagiarism, manipulation, invention; research integrity

1.4. Bioethical questions in experimental research and teaching; animal models; the 3 Rs; Regulations and guidelines

1.5. Bioethical questions in experimental research and teaching; human samples; informed consent; compliance with the objectives and social/personal return

1.6. bioethical questions in health and medicine; clinical trials; bioethical questions in social sciences; polls and questionnaires; recording

1.7. Bioethical questions in a global world (I): climate change, famine, water, biodiversity

1.8. Bioethical questions in a global world (II): equity, global health, medicines, pandemics

1.9. Bioethical questions for the future world

2. Practical sessions and case studies

2.1. Open access research, open data

2.2. Genetically modified organisms; microorganisms, yeasts, plants, crops, animals

2.3. Personal and sensitive data; big data; AI Life; anonymity; privacy; confidentiality; AI and life

2.4. Ethics and bioethics committees; how to approach bioethical issues in research projects

2.5. Future bioethical challenges: gene editing, precision medicine, species modification, cyborgs, technology and life

3. Problem-based learning; exercises

4. Seminars



Teaching methods and general organization


This subject is taught in English and is structured around a series of lectures, practical sessions, case studies and seminars (20 h).

— Practical sessions require previous reading of documents and teamwork. Presentation of advantages and disadvantages and debates.

— Seminars are presented by groups of students to study and analyse specific topics according to the interests of students and the lecturer.

Other distance learning activities

Supervised learning = 25 h

— Students who present seminars must prepare a presentation based on specific bibliography to be defended in front of the other students. They will be supervised by the lecturer.

— Students write an essay on a topic related to the subject. They will be supervised by the lecturer.

 Independent learning = 30 h

— Before each lecture, students must review the teaching material used and available in the Virtual Campus.

— After each lecture, students should critically analyse the contents, using not only class notes but also the supplementary material provided by the lecturer.

— Students should take into account the deadlines and schedule established to carry out the tasks and submit them on time.

— Students also need to work on the contents of the Virtual Campus and recommended readings.

— Students must prepare a research project with emphasis on bioethical issues and how to approach them.



Official assessment of learning outcomes


Assessment consists of the evaluation of the knowledge acquired and the student’s attitude during the course. As the group has a limited number of students, the lecturer will take into account attendance and participation in lectures, practical classes and seminars (up to 10% of the final grade).

The presentation and defence of seminars represents up to 40% of the final grade.

The short critical essay on a topic covered in class represents 25% of the final grade and the presentation of a research project at the end of the course, with an emphasis on bioethical considerations, represents 25% of the final grade. Quality critical opinions and in-depth arguments will count towards the final grade.

(For Master’s degree students, the essay and the presentation of a research project will be worth 45% of the final grade each).

Repeat assessment, if applicable, will be carried out in accordance with the current regulations of the Faculty of Biology (UB).


Examination-based assessment

As this course is compacted in two weeks, students are assessed on a continuous basis.