Course Offerings

The complete list of bioethics courses and their descriptions.

Core Courses

A historical and conceptual survey of ethical, regulatory, and policy issues in biomedical research. Emphasis will be placed on research involving human subjects. Master of Arts students are required to take any 2 of the following 3 courses: Clinical Ethics, Biomedical Research Ethics, and Public Policy, Medicine, and Justice. King, Iltis

An investigation of the main theoretical approaches to contemporary bioethics and their philosophical foundations. Each approach will be examined critically and students will explore how each approach informs analysis of contemporary issues in bioethics. Iltis

An examination of the organization of medicine and biomedical science in the United States today. The relationships between scientific and medical institutions and the implementation of public policies will be critically analyzed in light of the requirements of the principle of justice. Topics include conflicts of interest, broadly understood, within and between institutional and professional actors; the regulation of medical practice; access to health care; and the balance between the public good and market forces. Students will be required to take any 2 of the following 3 courses: Clinical Ethics, Biomedical Research Ethics, and Public Policy, Medicine, and Justice. Moskop, King

This course will focus on “ethics at the bedside” and will make extensive use of case studies. The course will begin with sessions on the role of ethics in health care, the theoretical tools of bioethics, and the relationships among law, culture, and clinical ethics. The course will then review the moral foundations of therapeutic relationships, and it will conclude with examination of moral issues encountered in health care at the beginning and at the end of life. Master of Arts students are required to take any 2 of the following 3 courses: Clinical Ethics, Biomedical Research Ethics, and Public Policy, Medicine, and Justice. Moskop

A seminar on bioethics topics of interest featuring WFU and invited external faculty, with additional student presentations. Participants will also engage with presenters and scholarly literature on a variety of aspects of bioethics, including, but not limited to, the scholarly and professional practice of bioethics, the role of empirical scholarship in bioethics and related disciplines, the relationship of bioethics to advocacy and policy, and bioethics communication and mediation. May be repeated for credit up to a maximum of 6 hours. King, Hall

Research directed toward fulfilling the thesis requirement. May be undertaken at any time, but full-time students are encouraged to begin thesis planning in the spring and complete the thesis during the summer term or the fall semester following completion of all course work.

*Courses also taught in alternating summers for select certificate students via online format.

Elective Courses

Concepts of health and disease shape discussions in bioethics and health policy. This course examines and critically evaluates competing conceptions of health and disease. The implications of adopting different understandings of health and disease for bioethics and health policy will be explored. Iltis

Study of bioethics topics not covered in the regular curriculum. Topics may be drawn from any theory or content area in the field of bioethics. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Staff

This elective explores the origins of bioethics thought, through examination of core concepts in philosophy, moral theory, social and cultural studies, and law and policy. Topics may include, for instance: the ancient Greeks, Confucius, and key religious teaching on health; the civil rights movement; the history of scientific medicine; and the legal conceptualization of medical practice. This course expands and extends students’ knowledge of the contemporary history of bioethics as incorporated in to various aspects of their required courses. Staff

An introduction to the methods, concepts and tools used in quantitative and qualitative empirical research in bioethics. Students will develop skills in the design, conduct, interpretation, and evaluation of bioethics research. Staff

This class may be required for the thesis option.

Course explores: 1) how the phenomena of conscience, acknowledgment, and our metaphysical desire for perfection inform the status of communication ethics; 2) how communication ethics is a necessary concern for bioethics scholars, policymakers, researchers, and others interested in assessing the ongoing debate over the benefits and burdens of biotechnology; and 3) how biotechnology influences our collective understanding of human dignity. Hyde

A comparison of American bioethics with the views of other societies and cultures, including western and non-western perspectives and developed and developing world perspectives. Topics may include: individualism vs. the community, reproductive freedom, organ transplantation, definitions and views of death, access to medical advances, and the use of human subjects in medical research. Other issues include health disparities, justice in research, and the role of humanitarian aid in promotion of global health. Staff

An in-depth critical examination of selected topics of current interest in clinical and research ethics. Topics are identified by staff and students. Examples of pertinent topics include human pluripotent stem cell research; assisted reproduction; research without consent; the sale of human organs; pandemic and biodefense preparedness; synthetic body parts and transhumanism; genetic enhancement; regenerative medicine and biogerontology. May be repeated for credit up to a maximum of 6 hours. King

An examination of the relationships between law and medicine, including the legal regulation of medical practice, concepts of medical malpractice, medical neglect, informed consent, confidentiality and privacy. The ethical implications of the intersection of law and medicine will be critically analyzed. This course is cross listed as LAW 524. Coughlin, Hall

This course explores fundamental themes, methods, and issues in religious bioethics. It seeks to determine the ways that religious approaches offer distinctive, complementary, or overlapping perspectives with secular approaches. Specific topics will include assisted reproductive technologies, family planning and abortion, genetic therapy and enhancement, withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, suicide and euthanasia, and justice issues in the allocation of health care resources. Combines lectures and discussions with case analysis. Staff

Examines ethical and justice aspects of social decision-making and market allocation mechanisms in the context of health care, health policy, and population health. Staff

tudents may work with a faculty member on a project of mutual interest. May be repeated for credit up to a maximum of 6 hours.

A critical examination of the bioethical issues raised in selected full length feature films. The goal of this course is to increase students’ ability to think critically about complex issues, paying close attention to relevant details. Staff

This course examines the public policy and legal dimensions of the financing and regulation of health care delivery. Its focus is on how medical institutions (hospitals, insurers, HMOs) are structured and regulated, and how these institutions relate to their physicians and patients. Ongoing debate over health care reform is a main focus. The dominant theme is how law shapes and responds to the rapid economic and structural changes that are taking place in the health care sector. This course is cross-listed as Law 525. Hall

Students will develop a bioethics case study and present it as a dramatic reading with audience discussion at semester’s end. From an initial prompt (e.g. subject matter, situation, incident) and associated readings, the work will be implemented in three phases of approximately equal length: 1) discussion and analysis of the prompt and readings; 2) student presentations of additional research, either individually or in teams, and concomitant discussion and analysis, from ethical, social, legal, and policy perspectives; and 3) script (case) development during in-class writing sessions. The overarching goal is to exploit the unique ability of dramatic art to engage complex, multifaceted issues in ways that are neither nebulous nor propagandistic, and to highlight the relationship between process, close analysis, art and scholarship in bioethics. Staff

A critical examination of the scholarly literature both in and about bioethics. Topics may include the ethics of the profession of bioethics, controversies concerning the role of bioethics professionals, and the standards and evaluation of practitioners of bioethics. King

Provides students with the opportunity to experience and understand human research oversight by attending Institutional Review Board (IRB) meetings, reviewing submitted protocols, and considering the ethical issues arising therein. Students assigned to a single lRB for a single semester will receive 1 credit. They will attend monthly meetings, meet periodically with course faculty and staff, and meet with lRB senior staff at the beginning and end of the semester. Students are also required to maintain and submit a journal of commentary on meetings and protocols and the ethical issues arising therein and an end of semester paper. Initial enrollment must be concurrent with enrollment in BIE 702: Biomedical Research Ethics or LAW 677/BIE 777: Health-Related Research. Additional credits may be earned by students who attend the meetings of more than one IRB or who continue attendance during the summer terms and for in the fall semester. Course may be repeated up to a maximum of 3 hours. Co-Requisite BIE 702 or LAW 677/BIE 777 POl. King, Iltis

This course is designed to introduce students to central clinical ethics activities in health care facilities, including ethics consultation, ethics policy development and review, and continuing education in bioethics. In addition to weekly seminar classes, students will attend meetings of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Clinical Ethics Committee and its standing subcommittees and continuing education conferences in bioethics. Students will meet with a variety of health care professionals to learn about their contributions to clinical ethics, will observe the process of clinical ethics consultation at WFBMC, and will study and practice ethics consultation skills. Prerequisite: BIE 705: Clinical Ethics. Course requires permission of instructor. Moskop, Staff

An exploration of some of the ethical issues generated by the acquisition and application of knowledge about the human genome. Topics include eugenics, confidentiality, gene therapy, genetic testing of minors, genetic testing of adults, and ownership of genetic information. Staff

This course introduces students to basic philosophical and ethical issues in neuroethics. In this course, two branches of neuroethics are explore: the ethics of neuroscience and the neuroscience of ethics. The ethics of neuroscience investigates the ethical implications of the application of neurotechnology for individuals and society, and the neuroscience of ethics attempts to answer traditional ethical questions through neuroscience. In the first half of the course, issues related to the ethics of neuroscience such as brain privacy (mind reading), brain manipulation, and cognitive enhancement are studied, and in the second half, contemporary neuroscientific results bearing on ethical issues like personal identity, free will, and the nature of normative judgments are reviewed. This course is cross listed in the Divinity School. Jung

This team-taught course provides bioethics students with an overview of the different ways in which narratives of diverse types are instrumental to bioethics thinking. Four to six faculty will teach individual course units of2-3 sessions, addressing topics including but not limited to: illness narratives; bioethics in fiction and film; performable case studies addressing bioethics issues; the voice of the medical case presentation; narrative reading and narrative writing; bioethics in the news; and the ethics of “thick description.” Involvement of multiple faculty enables critical reflection on narrative from a variety of disciplinary perspectives common to bioethics. Staff

This course surveys a range of legal and public policy topics in biotechnology, such as: FDA regulation of drugs and devices, regulation of medical research, products liability, insurance coverage of pharmaceuticals, intellectual property, and genetics. This course is cross-listed as Law 657. Hall

The course explores the regulatory framework and the policy issues that animate health-related research. Topics include public health and quality improvement research, genetic research, health related behavioral and social science research, first-in-human trials, and international considerations. This course is cross-listed at LAW 677. King

With the convergence of medicine, nanotechnology, computer science, molecular biology, genetic engineering, and business, biotechnologies are emerging not only as an important provider of life-saving and life-enhancing treatments but also a fast-growing and very profitable industry. This course explores some of the major ethical issues related to the current and proposed uses of biotechnologies with particular attention to the reasons and arguments that are often used to support various views on the use of biotechnology. This course is cross-listed as THS 790 (Divinity School). Jung

This course involves applying principles of bioethics in scientific and medical scenarios from the perspective of the legal system to see how the bioethics principles affect decision-making and strategy in the litigation and legislative processes. This course is interactive in nature, and involves the use of simulation and role-playing to help understand and address emerging bioethics issues in areas including informed consent, genetic testing, biomedical experimentation, and end of life decisions. This course is cross-listed as Law 594. Coughlin, Hall

Bioethics Graduate Program

 (336) 716-1499


Wake Forest University
PHS-525@Vine Building
3rd Floor, Suite 310
Medical Center Blvd.
Winston-Salem, NC 27157

Center for Bioethics, Health & Society

(336) 758-4256


Wake Forest University
B313 Tribble Hall
P.O. Box 7332
Winston-Salem, NC 27109

Bioethics, Humanities & Medicine Minor

(336) 758-4256

Wake Forest University
B313 Tribble Hall
P.O. Box 7332
Winston-Salem, NC 27109