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Bioethics & Society MSc

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Advances in biomedicine, neuroscience, and public health raise some of the most difficult ethical and societal questions today. The Bioethics & Society programme allows you to study these questions drawing on concepts, theories, and methods from philosophy and the social sciences. This will enable you to understand how bioethics influences the world, and how you could make an impact. 

Key benefits

  • The only UK programme based in a social science department
  • Taught at King's College London, one of the top-25 schools in the world (QS World University Rankings 2016)
  • Taught in the heart of London, at King's College Strand Campus
  • Offers a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach to bioethics that draws from key concepts, theories, methods and findings from philosophy and the social sciences
  • Lectures and seminars are given by internationally recognized faculty who consult for the World Health Organization, the Nuffield Council or Bioethics, and the U.K. Parliament Office of Science & Technology, among others
  • Collaborates with other departments at King’s to serve students’ individual needs and interests and create exciting career streams of optional modules
  • Offers a rigorous methods training in qualitative and quantitative research methods and critical policy research
  • Provides skilled supervision to develop competence in executing a small-scale independent dissertation research project
  • Offers a rich programme of guest lectures and seminars, including the KCL / UCL Joint Bioethics Colloquium, and the GHSM Seminar Series
  • Offers individualised career support to build a strong CV, helping students to identify opportunities to present their work, do internships, and secure funding
  • Collaborates closely with King's College Careers & Employability Office to enhance the employability of our students with targeted sessions

Key information

Application status Open

Duration One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Credit value 180 - 200

Course intake Contact for details: Dr Silvia Camporesi

Course leaders Dr Silvia Camporesi & Dr Annette Rid

Further details

Course contact for further information

Postgraduate Admissions Team, Admissions Office
tel: +44 (0)20 7848 2979
fax: +44 (0)20 7848 7200

Course contact form Postgraduate admissions

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy

DepartmentDepartment of Global Health & Social Medicine



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Course detail


The programme is taught in the heart of London, with immediate access to King’s hospitals and laboratories, and close to government, health policy think-tanks, patient advocacy groups, medical and scientific societies, and the private health sector. We offer a unique ‘real-world’ approach to bioethics, allowing students to understand the social and political contexts in which bioethical controversies arise and proposed solutions are developed. In the course of their studies, students are equipped with essential knowledge and skills to make a contribution to resolving bioethical problems. In addition, internship opportunities enable students to gather practical insights and to build professional networks.

Lectures and seminars are taught by internationally recognized faculty who consult the World Health Organization, the Nuffield Council or Bioethics, and the U.K. Parliament Office of Science & Technology, among others. A rich programme of guest lectures and seminars within the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine and the college, including the KCL / UCL Joint Bioethics Colloquium, enhances students’ learning experience.

Course purpose

The programme is ideal for health professionals, graduates of a relevant discipline, policy makers and shapers, and anyone wishing to develop a more rigorous understanding of the ethical and societal issues in biomedicine, neuroscience, and health policy today. Our Masters degree lays the foundation for future careers; for example, in government, national and international NGOs, teaching, or research in bioethics or social sciences. The programme will also enhance existing careers in clinical practice, biomedical research, public health, and health policy.

Course format and assessment

All modules are run as seminars, with a mixture of formal presentation by the instructor and active discussion among members of the seminar. Instructors are also available outside of seminars. Students will have personal guidance from a specific instructor during the dissertation phase. Assessment occurs through a mix of examinations, written work (formative and summative essays) and presentations.

Extra information

For more information contact the Admissions' Tutor, Dr Silvia Camporesi:

Further information can be found on the department website and on the programme website.


Year 1

Required Modules

Core Modules (must be taken and passed)

7SSHM616 Critical Bioethics (30 credits, term 1): offers students a critical introduction to the theoretical frameworks used in contemporary bioethics and to a wide range of approaches from philosophy and the social sciences.

7SSHM602 Dissertation in Bioethics and Society (60 credits): offers students the opportunity to investigate in depth a bioethical topic of their choice by carrying out an independent, small-scale research project.

Compulsory Modules (must be taken)

7SSHM617 Empirical Bioethics (15 credits, term 2): uses a case-study based approach to enable students to understand how bioethical controversies and proposed solutions emerge in unique social, political and regulatory contexts.

7SSHM606 Global Health Ethics (15 credits, term 2): aims to introduce students to theoretical, conceptual and analytic work related to global health ethics.

7SSHM620 Foundations in Global Health and Social Medicine (30 credits, term 1): this module is designed to introduce students to the basic theories and concepts at the interface of social science, health & medicine. It is designed to create a mini-canon that all GHSM students will master before branching out into their respective programme-specific and specialist modules. It is a shared module with the MSc in Global Health & Social Justice and the MSc in Medicine, Science & Society.

One of EITHER 7SSHM502 Designing Quantitative Research for Social Science & HealthOR 7SSHM503 Designing Qualititative Research for Social Science & Health (Term 2, 15 credits) OR Critical Research Policy (15 credits, term 2)


Optional Modules

Students can select 15 credits of optional modules from within the department or from other departments within King's College. Listed below are some of the modules offered within the department, a full list can be found here.

*Please note that not all modules may be running in a given year, please refer to the Department Module List for further information.

 Students may opt to take an additional Internship module which will increase their total credits to 200 for the degree.

Entry requirements & how to apply

Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.

A relevant UK honours degree of 2:1 standard or overseas equivalent. If an applicant possesses an undergraduate degree below 2:1 standard, subsequent postgraduate qualifications may be taken into account. Also desirable is evidence of active engagement in relevant activities and an attentive concern for the pressing ethical questions in contemporary medicine, bioscience and health policy, demonstrated by reading and otherwise following current national and international issues.

We may consider candidates with a lower second class degree or with professional qualifications from a recognised institution if they can show relevant work experience and/or relevant professional qualifications, can demonstrate that they are highly motivated and have referees from their university or employment strongly supporting their admission onto a masters level programme

Application procedure

Applications must be made online using King’s online application portal and a non-refundable application fee of £50 applies.

Your application will be assessed by the Admissions Tutor.

You will need to write a personal statement, upload two letters of reference, and your original transcripts. In your personal statement you should explain why you are interested in the MSc in Bioethics & Society and could include, for example, details of your motivation and your relevant knowledge, experience or skills. We look for candidates who demonstrate a strong interest in the programme and are committed to advanced interdisciplinary study at postgraduate level.

We aim to process all complete applications within four weeks; during February and March and over holiday periods, applications may take longer to process.


Personal statement and supporting information

Your personal statement should be approximately 800-1000 words . You should explain why you are interested in the MSc in Bioethics & Society and could include, for example, details of your motivation and your relevant knowledge, experience or skills. We look for candidates who demonstrate a strong interest in the programme and are committed to advanced interdisciplinary study at postgraduate level.

Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible.  Our first application deadline was the 31st March 2017.  Applications will remain open if places are available and programmes will be closed as soon as they are full.  For programmes with spaces remaining, no further applications will be accepted from non-EU (Overseas) nationals after 30th July 2017 or from UK/ EU nationals after 3rd September 2017.

Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

Preparation courses

Fees and funding

  • Full time UK fees: N/A (PGCert, 2017/18)*; N/A (PGDip, 2017/18)*; £9,450 p.a. (MA, 2017/18)*
  • Full time overseas fees: N/A (PGCert, 2017/18)*; N/A (PGDip, 2017/18)*; £18,420 p.a. (MA, 2017/18)*
  • Part time UK fees: N/A (PGCert, 2017/18)*; N/A (PGDip, 2017/18)*; £4,725 p.a. (MA, 2017/18)*
  • Part time overseas fees: N/A (PGCert, 2017/18)*; N/A (PGDip, 2017/18)*; £9,210 p.a. (MA, 2017/18)*

Please note: Current regulations allow some students to pay UK tuition fees on the basis of their EU citizenship or residency. Until these eligibility criteria are changed, the EU tuition fee will remain the same as the UK tuition fee.

*These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.


When you receive an offer for this course you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your place. The deposit will be credited towards your total fee payment.

The UK/EU deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000. 

  • If you receive an offer on or before 31st March 2017, payment is due by 30th April 2017.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st April 2017 and 30th June 2017, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st July 2017 and 31st July 2017, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer on or after 1st August 2017, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.

If you are a current King’s student in receipt of the King's Living Bursary you are not required to pay a deposit to secure your place on the programme. Please note, this will not change the total fees payable for your chosen programme.

Please visit our web pages on fees and funding for more information.

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.


Next steps

View our postgraduate guide

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Page last modified on 31 March 2017.