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Unit information: Scientific Method and Ethics 2 in 2015/16

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Unit name Scientific Method and Ethics 2
Unit code VETS23002
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Becky Whay
Open unit status Not open

BIOL11000, BIOL12000


VETS23000, VETS23001, VETS23003.

School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will enable students to develop approaches to acquiring, evaluating, analysing and interpreting qualitative and quantitative information. Principles of experimental design, epidemiological design and methods of acquiring subjective information will be studied in depth. Students will be encouraged to apply these principles and methods in a wide variety of different contexts. This unit will also equip students with an understanding of the relation between science, ethics, morality and society, and the place of animals within different historical and cultural contexts. The great moral traditions and key concepts in ethical thought will be examined. Ethical frameworks will be used to guide decision making in questions of animal use.


  • Ethics Element: To refine the ability of students to deal with ethical decisions in science by using a variety of existing frameworks, and build the skills necessary to develop frameworks for the evaluation of ethical dilemmas.
  • Scientific Methods Element: To refine knowledge and understanding of scientific method through a programme of work on experimental design, epidemiological design and quantitative and qualitative methods of acquiring information and data.
  • Scientific Methods Element: To refine the ability to analyse quantitative and qualitative data using a variety of analyses and statistical techniques.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • To describe the purpose of ethics within animal welfare and to understand its relationship with welfare science and legislation.
  • To critically evaluate and contrast different ethical systems, including utilitarianism, deontology and virtue theory.
  • To explain how culture and religion can affect the treatment of animals.
  • To describe the changing attitudes of society towards animals and how this has influenced attitudes towards animal use.
  • To be able to present an argument from a particular standpoint and listen actively to an opposing viewpoint, and understand something of the process of viewpoint and attitude development.
  • To be able to use published frameworks in decision-making exercises about animal-use, and apply this knowledge in new contexts.
  • To be able to demonstrate knowledge of the relevance of different qualitative and quantitative methods of acquiring data.
  • Develop the transferable skills associated with experimental design, epidemiological design and the acquisition of qualitative and subjective data.
  • Use a range of established techniques to analyse quantitative and qualitative data, undertake critical analysis of information and propose solutions to problems arising from that analysis.

Teaching Information

Lectures, Debates, Practicals, Directed Self Education (DSE), Computer-aided learning

Assessment Information

The unit is assessed as a whole with 50% of the total unit mark coming from the ethics element and 50% from the scientific methods element.

The assessment of this unit is in five parts:

Ethics Element: Coursework (Ethics DSE) 20%; 1 hour Written Examination (Ethics) 30% (held in January assessment period)

Scientific Methods Element: Coursework (Statistics DSE) 20%; 1 hour Computer Based Assessment (Epidemiology (5%) & Statistics (10%)) 15% (held during Summer assessment period); 1 hour Written Examination (Statistics) 15% (held during Summer assessment period)

Reading and References

Ethics Element:

  • Dolins, F. 1999 Attitudes to Animals, Cambridge University Press
  • Singer, P. 1990 A Companion to Ethics, Blackwell Companions to Philosophy, Blackwell.
  • Animal Welfare (1997) Ed. M.C.Appleby & B.O.Hughes. Published by CAB International. ISBN 0 85199 180 7
  • Sand√łe P and Christiansen S.B. 2008 Ethics of Animal Use, Published by Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 140515120X

Scientific methods Element:

  • Swinscow TDV & Campbell MJ 2002 Statistics at Square One (10th ed), BMJ Books.
  • Coggon D, Rose G & Barker DJP 2003 Epidemiology for the Uninitiated (5th ed), BMJ Books.
  • Matthews, Bowen, and Matthews, 1996. Successful Scientific Writing. CUP

(Note: individual lecturers may provide you with additional suggested reading that is specific to their topic.)