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 successfully complete any 2 of the following 3 courses: BIE 702, 704, or 705. Permission of Instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of Instructor required (POI)

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. Master of Arts students are required to successfully complete any 2 of the following 3 courses: BIE 702, 704, or 705. Permission of Instructor required (POI)

This course focuses on “ethics at the bedside” and make extensive use of case studies. The course begins 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 reviews the moral foundations of therapeutic relationships, and concludes with examining moral issues encountered in health care at the beginning and at the end of life. Master of Arts students are required to successfully complete any 2 of the following 3 courses: BIE 702, 704, or 705. Permission on Instructor required (POI)

A seminar on bioethics topics of interest featuring Wake Forest University and invited external faculty, with additional student presentations. Participants 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. Permission of Instructor required (POI)

Research directed toward fulfilling the thesis requirement. May be repeated for up to a total of 6 credits. P – POI

Work towards completing a capstone project. Prerequisite: at least nine BIE credits or at least six credits of core courses (BIE 702, 703, 704, 705, 706/707), unless otherwise approved. Permission of Instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of Instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

An in-depth critical examination of selected topics of current interest in clinical and research ethics. Topics are identified by students in consultation with faculty. 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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

An examination of the relationships between law and medicine, including the legal regulation of medical practice, concepts of medical malpractice, informed consent, confidentiality and privacy, and institutional liability. The ethical implications of the intersection of law and medicine will be critically analyzed. This course is cross listed
as LAW 524. Permission of instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

Students may work with a faculty member on a project of mutual interest. May be repeated for credit up to a maximum of 6 hours.  Permission of instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

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 IRB for a single semester will receive 1 credit. They will attend monthly meetings, meet periodically with course faculty and staff, and meet with IRB 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. 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. Corequisite BIE 702 (POl).

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 (POI)

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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

This course explores some of the major philosophical and ethical issues that arise with the advancement in neuroscience research and neurology care. The course is divided into two areas of neuroethics: (1) the ethics of neuroscience and (2) 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, we will examine some ethical issues (e.g., mind reading, memory manipulation, BCI, AI, and cognitive enhancement,) that arise in the applied and clinical contexts of neurotechnology and neurological diseases. In the second half, we will consider the ethical, legal, and philosophical implications (e.g., free will, consciousness, personal identity, and criminal law) of neuroscientific discoveries and claims. This course is cross-listed in the Divinity School (THS 739). Permission of instructor required (POI)

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.
Permission of instructor required (POI)

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. Permission of instructor required (POI)

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). Permission of instructor required (POI)

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