HSC 355-09SS Spring 2019

Bioethics is a field of ethics that is interested in the ethical issues that arise in the field of health care. In this course we are going to focus on some of the important issues that tend to come up when practicing in health-related fields.  We are going to explore what it means to live a good life and to be healthy and what decisions we should make in medicine, public health and health care.

This course is a survey course in Bioethics and is part of the Department of Health Sciences core curriculum. The course is designed to provide you an overview of the field and give you a language that you can use to talk to others in the field about ethical issues.

The course is also focused on writing and critical thinking. You will be asked to created, edit, or update an article on Wikipedia on a topic and bioethics, write an annotated bibliography, and perform two case analyses—one on your midterm and one on your final exam.

Contact Information

Instructor: Jason A. Smith

Office Location: SF Building, 5th Floor

Telephone Number: 510-885-3885

Email and Contacting Me

Course Information

Course Name and Units: HSC 355 Bioethics, 3 Units

Classroom Location: NS112



This course will cover ethical issues that arise in the health sciences including, but not limited to, clinical ethics, ethical issues in new technologies, public health ethics, and distributive justice. The course will focus on sound reasoning through discursive writing.

HSC 100 and HSC 130 with grades of C or better.
In this course students will be able to:
  1. Independently apply ethical perspectives and concepts to questions in bioethics.
  2. Recognize basic ethical issues in the health sciences.
  3. Discuss different ethical perspectives on current issues in health sciences and their implications.
  4. Write clear and grammatically correct case-analyses of bioethical issues.
  5. Complete literature searches and write clear and relevant literature reviews on topics in bioethics.

Raymond Devettere, Practical Decision Making in Health Care Ethics, 4th Edition. (2016). (Available in the bookstore) ("PDM")

Other readings available on Blackboard.

The following are important course requirements and due dates. The full course calendar is available on Blackboard.


Draft Due 03/04/19

Final Due 03/28/19

Wikipedia Assignment

See our Wikipedia class page for due dates for this assignment.

Midterm Exam 04/08/19

Final Exam 05/13/19 8PM - 10PM

Précis - 30%

Wikipedia Assignment - 30%

Midterm Examination - 20%

Final Examination - 20%

Students not turning in all assignments will receive a WU for the course.

Please check the class calendar on Blackboard for assignment due dates.

01/22/19 - Holiday, No Class

01/28/19 - Introduction to Class and to Bioethics

Chapters 1 - 3 of PDM

02/04/19 - Making Decisions

Chapter 4 of PDM

02/11/19 - Solidarity: Do we owe anything to others?

Readings on Blackboard

02/18/19 - Making Decisions for Other People

Chapter 5 of PDM

02/25/19 - Death and Dying

Chapter 6 of PDM

03/04/19 - Life-Sustaining Treatment

Chapter 7 of PDM

03/18/19 - Prenatal Life

Chapter 11 of PDM

03/25/19 - Euthanasia and Phyisician-Assisted Death

Chapter 13 of PDM

04/01/19 - Spring Break, No Class

04/08/19 - Midterm

04/15/19 -Children and Infants

Chapter 12 of PDM

04/22/19 - Ethics in Research

Chapter 14 of PDM

04/29/19 - Human Enhancement and Alteration and Distributing Resources

Chapter 16 of PDM 

5/06/19- Bioethics in the Anthropocene

Readings on Blackboard