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An Introduction to Medical Ethics: The Impact of Disability Screening

University of Manchester via FutureLearn


Build your confidence to address ethical questions

Ethics play an important role in healthcare, and need to be considered by health professionals and patients alike. On this course, you will get a practical introduction to ethics, and develop the reasoning skills needed to deal with ethical questions.

You will build your understanding of these issues by examining the ethics of prenatal screening for disabilities, like Down Syndrome and deafness. You will also gain an introduction to bioethics and the development of medical technologies to use in health services.

This course is always available for enrolment however there will be facilitated periods throughout the year. The next facilitated periods for the course will be:

  • Monday 4th September 2023
  • Monday 12th February 2024
  • Monday 17th June 2024

During these facilitated periods we aim to interact with students most days and aim to read all comments and questions. The course will be facilitated regularly by us for the four weeks following this date. Outside of the facilitated periods the course will be monitored intermittently by us and we cannot guarantee the same level of support outside those times.

However throughout all of the course, the learning materials and comments of your course-mates and educators will be available for you to view and interact with.

This course is for anyone with an interest in the ethical issues surrounding screening for disability or ethics in general.

This includes healthcare professionals, policymakers, prospective parents considering prenatal screening, and the medical staff delivering these services.


  • What is medical ethics?
    • Welcome to the course
    • What is ethics and why is it important?
    • Law and ethics
    • Case study: selecting for deafness
  • Defending your positions: When intuition is not enough
    • Welcome to week 2
    • Defending your ethical answer
    • Unconscious bias
    • The 'ABC Approach' to defending ethical positions
  • An Ethical Toolkit – defending your position further
    • Welcome to week 3
    • Concepts in medical ethics
    • Evaluating your arguments
    • Harm and disability
  • Screening for Down’s Syndrome – applying what you’ve learned
    • Welcome to week 4
    • Case study: Ethical controversy about screening in pregnancy for Down’s Syndrome
    • A focus on harm
    • The Non-Identity Problem
    • Wrapping up

Taught by

Becki Bennett


4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 52 ratings

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