Trees in a forest

How can we make ethical decisions?

Module details

  • Offered to 1st years
  • Tuesdays 16.00-18.00
  • 8 weeks (spring term only)
  • Planned delivery: On-campus (South Kensington)
  • Non-credit only
How to enrol

Applied ethics examines ethical issues that arise within a wide range of contexts. It explores questions like: Is euthanasia ever acceptable? Is it ok to experiment on animals? What are our responsibilities over climate change? How can we make ethical decisions in business? What might constitute an ethical AI?

In this eight week module we will use moral philosophy frameworks to explore ethical issues, analysing the problems and critically evaluating various possible solutions.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of major ethical theories and principles.
  • Use key ethical frameworks and concepts to analyse an ethical problem.
  • Construct a reasoned argument supported by relevant principles, theories and logic.

Indicative core content

You will first study key ethical frameworks, including deontology, consequentialism, virtue ethics and the ethics of care. Subsequent sessions will then apply these frameworks to real-life examples, for example in artificial intelligence, medicine, climate change and the treatment of animals.

As the term progresses we will explore how to make ethical arguments; deductive and inductive arguments, conceptual analysis and logical reasoning from principles, as well as examine common mistakes.

Learning and teaching approach

The module will be highly interactive, enabling you to explore your opinion and to learn from the module leader and fellow students. Most classes will include discussion time, and organised group discussions around both pre-set and in-class assigned materials. The eight weeks of classes will build into the module's summative essay.

You will be given informal, formative feedback on your ideas throughout the module, both from the module leader and fellow students. You will submit your final essay through the module VLE, though which you will receive written feedback.


  • Coursework: Essay (1,200-1,500 words) (100%)

Key information

  • ECTS value: 0
  • Requirements: You must be prepared to attend all classes and to spend about an hour a week preparing for each session
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 4 course. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.‌