This course is intended to serve as a broad introduction to the field of bioethics:

  1. Leading students to ask themselves the crucial questions on the nature of the relationship between techno-science, bioethics and society, nowadays;
  2. Leading students to think about their future work as scientific professionals and about their rights and duties as citizens
  3. Increasing the student’s capacity of decision and adjustment in a changing world.

    Specific capabilities to be developed:

    To understand and master the fundamental concepts of Bioethics, this specialized and cross-disciplinary knowledge spanning ethics, law, society, culture, public policy, philosophy, religion, economics, history, and even language, for the analysis of the interrelationship between biosciences, biotechnology and society.

    General capabilities to be implemented:

    1. To understand the dynamics of the relationship between science, technology and society, in different geographic an geopolitical contexts, at a global scale;
    2. To develop the sense of ethics and social responsibility;
    To relate professional practice with the active citizenship.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Isabel Maria da Silva Pereira Amaral


Weekly - 2

Total - 46

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.
  • John D. Arras & Elizabeth Fenton (2018), The Routledge Companion to bioethics (Routledge Philosophy Companions).
  • Lewis Vaughn (2022), Bioethics: Principles, Issues, and Cases, Oxford University Press 5th edition.
  • O. Carter Snead (2020), What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics, Oxford University Press.
  • Padma Mambisan (2017), An Introduction to Ethical, Safety and Intellectual Property Rights Issues in Biotechnology , Academic Press.
  • Pedro Galvão (2015), Ética com razões, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos.
  • Robert M. Veatch;   Laura K. Guidry-Grimes (2019) , The Basics of Bioethics, Routledge 4th edition.

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

Evaluation includes:
1. Elaboration of a written commentary about one of the curricular program''s bioethics topics (45%)
2. Oral presentation of a scientific article, in group (2-3 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. The Euthanasia and the abortion, the beginning and the end of life in human specie : an interdisciplinary debate

6. Contemporary issues on bioethics and study cases:

  1. Sexuality and human procreation 
  2. Manipulation and genetic selection (prenatal diagnosis, enhancement technologies,  genetic therapy)
  3. Research in human embryos (Fertilization in vitro, cloning and research in steam cells)
  4. Human transplantation
  5. Pandemics
  6. Other topics suggested by students

7. Global bioethics and the bioethics of poverty

8 Should we do what science, technology and medicine make possible? What are the limits? What is the frontier? 

Examples: Gene''''s patent, biological determinism, eugenics,