PHIL20240 Applied Ethics

Academic Year 2023/2024

Syllabus: Applied Ethics 20240

This course will examine a range of perennial ethical problems using the crisis of accelerating climate change as our focal point. One of the most fundamental ethical questions we can ask is what do we owe each other? What do we owe those suffering hunger, poverty, and injustice? How do these duties apply to future generations? Do we have a duty to open our borders to those escaping persecution or climate change? To what degree are we willing to radically alter the way we live to preserve ‘our’ way of life?

While these questions have been around for a long time, our post-COVID world seems particularly rife with anxiety and uncertainty. Will the world ever ‘go back to normal’? What kind of career trajectory or life plan can we reasonably expect to pursue? Beyond any preferred normative viewpoint, questions relating to which diet is the best to maintain or the preservation of habitats for non-human life, carry added existential weight. It is no longer enough to ask, “How ought we to live?” We must now view all human activities through an ecological prism in order to safeguard the very possibility of human society. As a species, we are more powerful than ever before, and yet as individuals we often feel helpless in the face of novel zoonotic illnesses, fragile supply chains, and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns. However bleak things may look to us at present, it is vital to face these threats directly while strengthening our capacities to think critically and compassionately.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module students will have gained a good understanding of the range and depth of practical ethical problems facing us today. A general aim of this module is to teach students to approach difficult and often emotive topics in a structured and analytical manner focusing on the critical assessment of arguments.

Indicative Module Content:

1. Accelerated Climate Change and ‘Hopelessness’
2. Moral status of Non-human Beings
3. Eco-fascism and eco-terrorism
4. Moral Duties to Future Generations
5. Duties and Rights of those Displaced by Climate Change
6. Moral and Existential Hazards of Geoengineering

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module will comprise lectures and small-group tutorials 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: 2 hour In-person exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Attendance: Tutorial Attendance and Participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Essay of 1500 words Week 7 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be given on each of the essays

Name Role
Assoc Professor Danielle Petherbridge Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ranier Abengana Tutor
Petros Satrazanis Tutor
Jonathan Wren Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Fri 10:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 31 Thurs 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 31 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50
Tutorial Offering 6 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Wed 14:00 - 14:50
Tutorial Offering 7 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 Wed 13:00 - 13:50