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Medical Ethics - Moral health care dilemmas and choices from a European perspective

Tuition fee €775 per programme

Reduced tuition fee for the 2021 edition of Maastricht Online Campus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.


Those who are working in the medical profession are often confronted with decision-making procedures that go far beyond the technological aspects that are involved in the cases under investigation. Doctors and nurses are aware of the fact that their fields of operation are characterised by moral parameters as well and they know that ethical reflection has to come in where scientific deliberation is no longer able to answer all the questions that are connected to the medical problems they have to deal with. This means that quite frequently a medical assessment needs the help of an ethical evaluation to cover completely the appraisal of a particular health situation and that doctors and nurses should be conscious of the moral status and implications of the conclusions they draw.

The aim of this course is to give students an introductory and philosophical investigation of the question if, when and how ethical considerations can or must play a role in the practice of the medical professions. Topics that will be addressed are for example: euthanasia, embryo research, HIV and Aids, imperilled new-borns, gen therapy and cloning, involuntary psychiatric treatment, and allocation of limited medical resources.

It wants to make students aware of the fact that the health sciences are not operating in a moral vacuum and that a good knowledge of both the older and recent ethical debate in this particular field is of the greatest significance. There will be lectures, philosophical discussions and the study of practical cases (some potentially with guest speakers from the field) that reflect the most important problems and topics that make up the moral challenges of the medical discipline of today.

Course Duration and Dates
This course consists of 32 hours (synchronous/asynchronous) divided over 7-8 weeks.
The classes will be scheduled in Central European Time [CET] so it is possible that some time slots are not ideal for people in certain time zones. However, when scheduling the courses, we will try to take into account the different time zones as much as we can.

The number of credits earned after successfully concluding this course is the equivalent of 6 ECTS according to Maastricht University CES guidelines. For further information see the terms and conditions. Please consult with your home university or UM faculty if these credits will be accepted as part of your programme and, if necessary, converted to the credit system acknowledged by your home university.

Students who need more credits can sign up for the extended course format, which includes an Independent Study Project (ISP) worth an additional 3 ECTS. This costs €400. Please reach out to us via mail if you would like to sign up for an Independent Study Project (ISP). The maximum number of credits that can be obtained is 9 ECTS.

Course coordinator
Hubert Timmermans

Hubert Timmermans obtained his degrees in Philosophy (BA and MA) and Theoretical Linguistics and Logic (BA and MPhil) at the universities of Utrecht, Nijmegen and Aachen. He has lectured on Intercultural Philosophy, Science and Religioin, and Medical Ethics at the Center for European Studies and at Maastricht Summer School since 2001. He is also a lecturer in Philosophical Cosmology at the Major Seminary of Rolduc (Netherlands), which is affiliated with the Lateran University of Rome.

Course objectives
Students will be schooled in philosophical techniques that form the basis of sound ethical reasoning. After the course students will have a good working knowledge of the most important ethical problems, questions, approaches, answers and theories that are related to the fields in which medical professionals are working. They can give an independent philosophical analysis of a medical case or of a case which is related to this and they will be able to properly justify the ethical answers and solutions that are being looked for. They know how to present their findings both in a written and in an oral form.

None. A minimum number of 10 students is required for the course to take place.

Recommended literature
• Albert R. Jonsen: Clinical Ethics: A Practical Approach to Ethical Decisions in Clinical Medicine (Lange Clinical Science).
• Albert R. Jonsen: A Short History of Medical Ethics.
• Bunge, Mario. Medical Philosophy: Conceptual Issues in Medicine. World Scientific (2013).
• G. Pence, ‘Medical Ethics: Accounts of Ground-Breaking Cases, McGraw-Hill, New York (2014).
• Leslie Stevenson, David L. Haberman, Peter Matthews Wright: Twelve Theories of Human Nature, Oxford University Press (2012).
• R.K. Lie, P.T. Schotsmans: Healthy Thoughts: European Perspectives on Health Care Ethics, Leuven 2002.
• Richard Huxtable, Ruud ter Meulen: The Voices and Rooms of European Bioethics, Routledge, 2015.

Teaching methods
▪ Assignments ▪ Lectures ▪ Class discussions

Assessment methods
Portfolio ▪ Final paper ▪ Participation
For the extra 3 ECTS: paper (Individual project).

Apply now! Spring semester MOC 2021
Application deadline
Mar 8, 2021 23:59:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Apr 5, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Apply now! Spring semester MOC 2021
Application deadline
Mar 8, 2021 23:59:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Apr 5, 2021

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States