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Bioethics and 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 course allows you to study these questions through a unique interdisciplinary approach drawing on concepts, theories, and methods from philosophy and the social sciences, in a global health context. This will enable you to understand how bioethics influences the world, and how you can make an impact in the world. Visit our Subject Area pages for content, news and events about the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine. We also have a range of scholarships available. Click on 'Our Faculties' at the top of the page and then 'Social Science & Public Policy' to find more information.

Key benefits

  • The only UK course based in a social science department, faculty of social sciences and public policy.
  • Taught at King's College London, ranked joint 31st in the World (QS World University Rankings 2021)
  • 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 and science and technology studies.
  • Collaborates with other departments at King's to serve students' individual needs and interests and create exciting career streams of optional modules
  • Offers a methodological training in qualitative and quantitative research methods and critical policy research
  • Lectures and seminars are given by internationally recognized faculty who consult for the World Health Organization, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and the U.K. Parliament Office of Science & Technology, among others
  • 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 Biotechnology and Society research seminar, the Culture Medicine and Power conversations, the Mental Health & Society reading group, 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
  • Offers an entry level onto PhD in Bioethics & Society at King's College London

The course is taught in the heart of London 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.

Base campuses

strand-quad
Strand Campus

Located on the north bank of the River Thames, the Strand Campus houses King's College London's arts and sciences faculties.

waterloo-banner
Waterloo Campus

Waterloo campus is home of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery and facilities for other faculties

Regulating bodies

King's is regulated by the Office for Students

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Teaching methods - what to expect

Curious to find out more? Access on-demand content including taster lectures and talks, and meet our current staff and students on our subject hub page.

We will use a delivery method that will ensure students have a rich, exciting experience from the start. Face to face teaching will be complemented and supported with innovative technology so that students also experience elements of digital learning and assessment.

The following table will give you an idea of what a typical academic workload might look like as you progress through your studies:

 
Year or module Lectures, seminars and feedback Self-study (hours)
Per 15-credit module 15 hours (usually 1.5 hours of lectures/ seminars per week over a 10 week term, but some may also be offered intensively) 135
Dissertation module 6 half-hour supervisory sessions and 8 x 2 hour workshops 581

Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.

Assessment

  • Essays
  • Written Examinations
  • Oral Presentations
  • Dissertation

The department assesses students on a combination of essays, written examinations (open book), oral presentations and the dissertation. The nature of assessment varies by module.

Structure

Required modules

You are required to take the following modules:

Dissertation in Bioethics and Society (60 credits)
Critical Bioethics (30 credits)

You are also required to take one of the following modules

Designing Quantitative Research for Social Science and Health (15 credits)
Designing Qualitative Research for Social Science and Health (15 credits)
Critical Policy Research for Health and Medicine (15 credits)

Optional modules

In addition, you are required to take 45-75 credits from a range of optional modules. Optional modules may typically include:

Critical Global Health (30 credits)
Ethics of Clinical Research (15 credits)
Ethics and Law in Medicine and Sport (15 credits)
Global Health Ethics (15 credits)
Pharmaceuticals and Society (15 credits)
Pharmaceuticals and Society (15 credits)
Social and ethical implications of AI, big data and algorithms (15 credits)
Any Level 7 module offered by King’s or 15 credits at Level 6, subject to approval from the module convenor and the programme director

Please note that module availability may vary on a given year due to staff availability. Contact your programme director for more information.

Part-time students will be expected to take Critical Bioethics, one research methods module and one optional module in Year 1, with the remaining required and optional modules taken in Year 2. Part time students attend the dissertation workshops and submit a dissertation proposal in Year 1 with the dissertation being submitted at the end of Year 2.

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Employability

Graduates from this course have gone onto the following destinations:

  • Policy consultation (e.g. Nuffield Council on Bioethics, King’s Fund, UK Biobank Ethics & Governance Council)
  • National and international NGOs (e.g. disease charities such as Cancer Research UK or British Lung Foundation, Council on Health Research and Development, Gates Foundation)
  • Government (e.g. Department of Health, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Health Research Authority, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) 
  • Hospitals (e.g. clinical ethicist) 
  • Private sector e.g. Pharmaceutical companies
  • Leadership positions in health care (for trained professionals)
  • Academic work in bioethics or sociology (e.g. our PhD programme in Bioethics & society)

Tuition Fees

UK:

Full time: £11,040 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £5,520 per year (2022/23)

International:

Full time: £24,660 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £12,330 per year (2022/23)

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

Deposit

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 deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000.

  • If you receive an offer on or before 31 March, payment is due by 25 April 2022.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 April and 30 June, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 July and 31 July, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 August and 21 August, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer from 22 August onwards, payment is due within three days 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.

Additional Costs

In addition to your tuition costs, you can also expect to pay for:

  • books if you choose to buy your own copies 
  • personal photocopies 
  • printing course handbooks if you choose to print your handbooks (all the reading material can be accessed through KEATS, King’s online learning system)
  • society membership fees e.g. Institute of Medical Ethics
  • stationery 
  • travel costs for travel around London and between campuses 
  • graduation costs

Funding

The course is taught in the heart of London 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.

Base campuses

strand-quad
Strand Campus

Located on the north bank of the River Thames, the Strand Campus houses King's College London's arts and sciences faculties.

waterloo-banner
Waterloo Campus

Waterloo campus is home of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery and facilities for other faculties

Regulating bodies

King's is regulated by the Office for Students

Loading...

Teaching methods - what to expect

Curious to find out more? Access on-demand content including taster lectures and talks, and meet our current staff and students on our subject hub page.

We will use a delivery method that will ensure students have a rich, exciting experience from the start. Face to face teaching will be complemented and supported with innovative technology so that students also experience elements of digital learning and assessment.

The following table will give you an idea of what a typical academic workload might look like as you progress through your studies:

 
Year or module Lectures, seminars and feedback Self-study (hours)
Per 15-credit module 15 hours (usually 1.5 hours of lectures/ seminars per week over a 10 week term, but some may also be offered intensively) 135
Dissertation module 6 half-hour supervisory sessions and 8 x 2 hour workshops 581

Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.

Assessment

  • Essays
  • Written Examinations
  • Oral Presentations
  • Dissertation

The department assesses students on a combination of essays, written examinations (open book), oral presentations and the dissertation. The nature of assessment varies by module.

Structure

Required modules

You are required to take the following modules:

Dissertation in Bioethics and Society (60 credits)
Critical Bioethics (30 credits)

You are also required to take one of the following modules

Designing Quantitative Research for Social Science and Health (15 credits)
Designing Qualitative Research for Social Science and Health (15 credits)
Critical Policy Research for Health and Medicine (15 credits)

Optional modules

In addition, you are required to take 45-75 credits from a range of optional modules. Optional modules may typically include:

Critical Global Health (30 credits)
Ethics of Clinical Research (15 credits)
Ethics and Law in Medicine and Sport (15 credits)
Global Health Ethics (15 credits)
Pharmaceuticals and Society (15 credits)
Pharmaceuticals and Society (15 credits)
Social and ethical implications of AI, big data and algorithms (15 credits)
Any Level 7 module offered by King’s or 15 credits at Level 6, subject to approval from the module convenor and the programme director

Please note that module availability may vary on a given year due to staff availability. Contact your programme director for more information.

Part-time students will be expected to take Critical Bioethics, one research methods module and one optional module in Year 1, with the remaining required and optional modules taken in Year 2. Part time students attend the dissertation workshops and submit a dissertation proposal in Year 1 with the dissertation being submitted at the end of Year 2.

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Employability

Graduates from this course have gone onto the following destinations:

  • Policy consultation (e.g. Nuffield Council on Bioethics, King’s Fund, UK Biobank Ethics & Governance Council)
  • National and international NGOs (e.g. disease charities such as Cancer Research UK or British Lung Foundation, Council on Health Research and Development, Gates Foundation)
  • Government (e.g. Department of Health, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Health Research Authority, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) 
  • Hospitals (e.g. clinical ethicist) 
  • Private sector e.g. Pharmaceutical companies
  • Leadership positions in health care (for trained professionals)
  • Academic work in bioethics or sociology (e.g. our PhD programme in Bioethics & society)

Tuition Fees

UK:

Full time: £11,040 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £5,520 per year (2022/23)

International:

Full time: £24,660 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £12,330 per year (2022/23)

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

Deposit

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 deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000.

  • If you receive an offer on or before 31 March, payment is due by 25 April 2022.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 April and 30 June, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 July and 31 July, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 August and 21 August, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer from 22 August onwards, payment is due within three days 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.

Additional Costs

In addition to your tuition costs, you can also expect to pay for:

  • books if you choose to buy your own copies 
  • personal photocopies 
  • printing course handbooks if you choose to print your handbooks (all the reading material can be accessed through KEATS, King’s online learning system)
  • society membership fees e.g. Institute of Medical Ethics
  • stationery 
  • travel costs for travel around London and between campuses 
  • graduation costs

Funding

Application closing date guidance

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Accommodation

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