Ethics is concerned with what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour, or what is right or wrong. This course explores the history of ethics in philosophy and religion and applies current thinking to everyday life situations.

Course CodeBPS217
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Ethics might simply be described as the study of “What is right and what is wrong”.

Another way of defining ethics is “those norms and rules of conduct that distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour”.
Ethics is commonly thought of as a subdivision within the broader discipline of “philosophy” (the study of human thoughts)

The study of ethics is commonly divided into three areas:
  1. Meta Ethics - attempts to understand what ethical positions are.
  2. Normative Ethics- attempts to understand how we should respond to an ethical position.
  3. Applied Ethics - attempts to apply ethics to make decisions and take actions in the real world; whether at work, home or play (or anywhere else).

Why Study Ethics?

Ethics is at the core of many professions; quite obviously the law and religion; but an understanding of ethics also impacts strongly on many other industries. Without a sense of ethics; industries like health care, welfare, education and environmental management would probably be very different to what they are.

Study this course to help you decide what your own ethical boundaries are. Learn about different perspectives on moral philosophy, and what differentiates one perspective from another.

Ethics is increasingly important in many disciplines and workplaces. Consider how often you hear people talking about medical ethics, ethics in sport, business ethics, ethical behaviour of religious leaders or school teachers. The list is exhaustive.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Overview and Introductory Ethics
    • Who invented ethics – What are its origins?
    • Ethics and Philosophy
    • Current Ethical Theories:
    • Divine Command Theory of Ethics
    • The Theory of Forms Theory of Ethics
    • Theory of Relative Ethics
    • The Three Areas of Ethics
    • What determines your own Ethics/ Sense of Morality?
  2. Arguing an Ethical Position – An Overview of Meta Ethics
    • Metaethical Theories
    • Expressivism Theories (Non-Cognitive)
  3. Accommodating Varying Viewpoints
    • Different Ethical Viewpoints
    • Ethical Dilemmas
  4. Virtues and Morality
    • Developmental Model of Virtue Ethics
    • Morality
  5. Reasons for Ethical Decisions
    • Theories of Ethical Decision- Making
    • The Theories in More Detail
    • The Principle of Double Effect
  6. The Social Contract
    • Principle of Self-Interest
    • Theories of Social Contract
    • Twentieth Century Social Contract Theory
  7. Applied Ethics A - An Individual’s Rights
    • Basic Human Rights
    • The Underpinning Values of Human Rights
    • Categories of Human Rights
    • Human Rights Breaches
    • Applied Ethics A
  8. Applied Ethics B - An Ethical Society
    • What Is An Ethical Society?
    • Applied Ethics B
    • Case Study: African Caribbean People and Schizophrenia
  9. Applied Ethics C - Ethics in Work and Business
    • Why do Organisations Need Ethics?
    • Applied Ethics C - Organisations and Professions
    • Benefits of Ethics in Healthcare

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Understand the scope, nature and language of ethics
  • Demonstrate a capacity to argue varying viewpoints about ethics
  • Discuss how conflicting points of view might be rationalized in ethics
  • Discuss the virtues found or lacking in different people and groups of people
  • Identify how and why different people will choose to adopt one ethical position rather than another
  • Explain the social contract
  • Explain how ethics can be applied to determine and manage the rights of individuals
  • Explain how ethics can be applied to better manage the effective functioning of human societies
  • Explain how ethics can be applied by people in the work they do, on a daily basis and throughout an entire career

Scope of Ethics?

Ethical questions can vary from place to place and time to time. Some issues seem so very important in one part of the world; and are hardly even though about elsewhere.
In the modern world though, the following issues are often of concern:
  • The treatment of the environment/waste and consumption
  • The treatment of women
  • The formulation of business practices
  • The treatment of children and the elderly
  • The treatment and value of animals
  • Privacy and the community
  • Treatment of criminals
  • Using science to extend our lifespan.

Of course there are many more areas of life in which ethical dilemmas are perpetually raised. Within each of these areas there may be a wide array of different types of ethical dilemma. For instance, within the field of visual art different dilemmas might include:

  • Should plagiarism be permissible on any level e.g. design ideas, painting style, reproduction?
  • Issues relating to copyright. 
  • What, if any, subject material should not be used as a basis for art?
  • Nudity in art.
  • Exploitation of minors. 
  • Is it acceptable for a major art gallery to compromise the quality of its exhibits in order to create more revenue?
Cultural norms do vary from one country to another. Does this mean that something can be ethical behaviour in one country, and unethical in another.

This course helps you to develop a perspective on what is and is not ethical; and being able to make such decisions can be a very important part of daily life for people in many different types of jobs.

How This Course Could Help You

Ethics is one of those areas of enquiry which really encourages you to think outside the box. Students of this course will learn to challenge their own values and why they hold them. An understanding of belief systems and morality underpins all areas of life - at home, in public and at work.  Graduates of this course should develop the ability to question why particular codes of ethics are in place, along with their usefulness and limitations. As well as the practice of psychology and counselling which adhere to strong ethical codes this course can apply to all sorts of professions.

This course has broad appeal and may be applicable to people in a range of careers including:

  • Psychology
  • Counselling
  • Nursing
  • Social work
  • Caring roles
  • Health professions
  • Teaching
  • Coaching
  • Law
  • Politics
  • Human resources
  • Business
  • Police
  • Security

The course may be studied by itself for personal development or as part of a certificate or higher level course.   


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Jacinda Cole

Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting his own firm. Gavin has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Gavin has a B.Sc., Psych.Cert.
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