Biosafety and Bioethics


- To contextualize the ethical dimension of the  life sciences and their applications;

- To promote an informed debate on the increasing importance of the life sciences and biotechnology  in society;

- To debate to what extent science is neutral and the issue of the social responsibility of scientists;

- To develop  the ability  of students to contextualize and to debate scientific and ethical problems.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Isabel Maria da Silva Pereira Amaral


Weekly - 2

Total - 58

Teaching language







Ben Mepham, (2008), Bioethics, an introduction for the biosciences, Oxford University Press.

Donna Dickwenson (2012), All that Matters, McGraw Hill, London.

Gregory E. Pence (2021), Pandemic Bioethics, Broadview Press.

Humberto Rosa, Bioética para as Ciências Naturais, FLAD/NSF International Bioethics Institute, 2002. 

Jeffrey R. Ryan, Jan F. Glarum, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, Containing and Preventing Biological Treats, Elsevier, 2008.

John D. Arras & Elizabeth Fenton (2018), The Routledge Companion to bioethics (Routledge Philosophy Companions).

Padma Mambisan (2017), An Introduction to Ethical, Safety and Intellectual Property Rights Issues in Biotechnology, Academic Press.

Palmira Fontes da Costa (ed.), Ciência, Ética e Cidadania: Reflexões de Cientistas Nobel, Lisboa, Ed. Autor, 2015.

Pedro Galvão (2015), Ética com razões, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos.

Peter Singer, Ética Prática, Gradiva, 2000.

Teaching method

The classes involve a combination of theory and practice. The lecturer will provide introductions to the main themes of the course and sessions of discussion and debate from several bibliographic sources by the students. All the materials (articles, books, PowerPoint slides) will be available online to the students in the course page in Moodle.

Evaluation method

1. Elaboration of a written commentary about one of the curricular program''s bioethics themes (45%)

2. Oral presentation of a scientific article, in group (4 students), about a specific program theme (30%);

3. Final work about a theme (in group) chosen between the topics addressed (25%).

Subject matter

1.Introduction to Bioethics: nature and history

The life: forms, origins and sense

2. Overview of the current state of the art of global ethics

3. The major paradigms of western society (teleological, deontological, utilitarian models and its variants)


4. Research codes and standards of conduct in the international context - the use of target populations in biological, clinical, and therapeutic research

5. Biosafety: OGMs, Bioterrorism; Biohacking, Synthetic Biology, and Global Health.


6. Ethical issues raised by Genetics and Biotechnology:  Sexuality and human procreation; Manipulation and genetic selection (prenatal diagnosis, enhancement technologies, genetic therapy, new gene-editing techniques); Research in human embryos (Fertilization in vitro, cloning, and research in steam cells); Human transplantation; Human enhancement.


Programs where the course is taught: