Postgraduate taught 

Medical Devices Engineering MSc

Bioethics for Biomedical Engineering 4 ENG4189

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Engineering
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will introduce students to the application of ethics in the field of Biomedical Engineering.  The subjects covered will include the use of animal origin implants, the use of genetically modified organisms to the preparation of ethical approval applications for experimental studies.


2 lectures per week

Excluded Courses





70% Written Exam

30% Written Assignment

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aims of this course are to:

■ consider ethics and various ethical theories, including legal protection for ethical practices and "whistleblowing";

■ provide students with the knowledge to allow the consideration of whether or not something is ethical;

■ consider approaches to "Conflict of Interest" and ethical working practices;

■ introduce the constraints of working ethically with different subjects or participants, including influence of cultures and people considered unable to provide consent;

■ introduce students to the ethical issues associated with genetically modified organisms, animal and human (both patients and non-patient) trials and stem cell research;

■ provide students with the knowledge to organise experiments from calculation of subject numbers through to applying for ethical approval.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ describe the ethical framework within which biomedical engineering functions, including the legal constraints;

■ consider and apply ethical constraints to obtaining informed consent for studies, whistleblowing, studies with animals and people, conflicts of interest;

■ discuss the constraints of working with animal origin materials, stem cells and modified organisms;

■ calculate the number of subjects needed for experiments with human or animal subjects;

■ prepare and submit an ethical approval form for experimental studies.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must attend the degree examination and submit at least 75% by weight of the other components of the course's summative assessment.


Students must attend the timetabled seminar classes.


Students should attend at least 75% of the timetabled classes of the course.


Note that these are minimum requirements: good students will achieve far higher participation/submission rates. Any student who misses an assessment or a significant number of classes because of illness or other good cause should report this by completing a MyCampus absence report.