Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


BIOL205 Pharmacology 1 and BIOL206 Human Genetics and BMSC206 Introduction to Neuroscience and BMSC207 Microbiology and Immunology and BMSC209 Pathophysiology

Unit rationale, description and aim

Biomedical research is at the forefront of preventing and treating disease and requires professionals who can work in complex and interconnected disciplines and consider their work through an ethical lens. This unit begins by examining the ethical principles that underpin biomedical research including autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice and provides students with the opportunity to examine the ethical considerations that arise in biomedical research. Students will engage in informal debates and discussions on topics of ethical significance, such as those related to beginning and end-of-life research, use of resources for rare disorders, and concerns raised by the conduct of research on human subjects.

Students will then focus on evaluating how various biomedical science disciplines (genetics, physiology, anatomy, microbiology, neuroscience, immunology and pharmacology) integrate to develop an understanding of the complexities of various diseases/conditions. An emphasis will be placed on novel research, new diagnostic techniques and emerging treatments. Students will have an opportunity to deeply engage in and explore a specific disease or line of research in their own independent project. A team project will further develop students’ teamwork, project management skills and communication skills while designing solutions to real-world problems in human health.

This capstone unit aims to advance students’ knowledge, health literacy, problem-solving, project management and critical thinking skills, as well as their ability to apply ethical principles to their professional decisions.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Appraise ethical principles that impact on biomedical research and human health (GA3, GA4, GA8)

LO2 - Evaluate evidence obtained from primary resources to critique new biomedical research, emerging diagnostic approaches and treatments of various human diseases through an ethical lens (GA3, GA4, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Create and plan projects that offer potential solutions to complex human pathological conditions, that can be communicated to both scientifically literate and lay audiences (GA4, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • Ethical principles and how they are applied to biomedical science research
  • Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-Maleficence, Justice
  • Including Confidentiality, Efficiency, Proportionality, Veracity
  • Research Ethics
  • International human rights conventions and principles governing research conducted upon human subjects
  • The function of Human Research Ethics Committees
  • Considerations and application of ethical principles to modern and novel biomedical problems.
  • Exploration and analysis of how different disciplines of biomedical sciences (such as human genetics, anatomy, cell biology, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, pathophysiology, pharmacology) integrate and interact in diseased, pathological or engineered states, for example:
  • Immune & haemopoietic disorders and diseases
  • Genetic issues
  • Microbiological issues
  • Neurological conditions and issues
  • Congenital/Anatomical issues
  • Other biomedical research
  • Consideration of treatment options and outcomes in the management of various diseases/conditions
  • Project management

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In this capstone unit, a flipped learning approach will be used to strengthen active and self-directed learning as students are required to explain complex disease mechanisms by researching and synthesising current evidence from a number of biomedical disciplines. Students will learn from live interactive seminars presented by real-world practitioners to foster interaction and networking with industry professionals.

Each week real-world case studies or complex human health problems will be presented in workshops allowing students to work collaboratively in small teams to discuss, critique and debate ethical dilemmas, plan projects and solve complex real-world problems.

In tutorials, students have the opportunity to work independently on projects in a mock work environment where their tutor acts as mentor. Here students build project and time management skills, develop their communication skills and other important professional skills (such as researching, organising, analysing, synthesising, and evaluating information), as well as engage in high level discussions about the progression of their independent projects.

In the final week of the unit, students will present their work at a showcase night where industry professionals, faculty, family and friends are invited. Through this learning activity, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their content knowledge and their ability to communicate ideas to both lay and scientifically literate audiences.   

Consistent with adult learning principles, the teaching and learning strategies used within this unit will provide students with knowledge and skills relevant to human health ethics and their profession. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively with peers. Learning and teaching strategies reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. These strategies support students in meeting the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit and the broader course learning outcomes.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment items consistent with University assessment requirements and policy will be used to ensure that students achieve the unit learning outcomes and attain the graduate attributes; these include a written ethical appraisal, a group assessment in the form of a project proposal, and an independent communication project.

Assessment 1 is an early semester written ethical appraisal that provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply ethical principles to a range of issues impacting on biomedical science research and human health, and to reflect on their own developing ethical understanding.

Assessment 2 is a project proposal where students work collaboratively to develop a novel project proposal to a real-world biomedical problem. The team presentation will encourage effective communication, planning and project management skills, high level analytical and research skills, and teamwork skills. This assessment provides students with an opportunity to showcase the problem-solving skills developed throughout the semester, and their ability to communicate to both scientifically literate and lay audiences. This team presentation provides an opportunity for immediate feedback to assist students in evaluating their progress with respect to the learning outcomes.

Assessment 3 is the ‘Communicating Human Health Independent Project’. This task will enable students to focus on a complex human pathological condition of their choice. Students will research their topic using high quality primary research sources to explain the condition and new diagnostic and treatment approaches using an ethical lens. This assessment task will allow students to demonstrate their enhanced written communication skills and integrative knowledge that has been gained during the course of their degree.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written ethical appraisal

Provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply ethical principles to a range of issues impacting on biomedical science research and human health. Students will also submit a short reflective piece in response to a guest seminar presentation.


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA8

Group project proposal

Students work with colleagues in a team to develop a novel project proposal to a real-world problem. The proposal will include an overview, rationale, project plan, Gant chart, mock budget and a list of deliverables. Students will present their proposals to communicate to both lay and scientifically literate audiences.


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA7, GA8, GA9

Communicating human health - independent project

Provides students with an opportunity to develop an authentic piece of work that addresses a specific disease process or condition at an advanced level. This will allow students to demonstrate the enhanced written communication skills and integrative knowledge that has been gained during the course of their degree. This will also include a short reflection.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA3, GA4, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Beauchamp, T. & Childress J. (2019) Principles of biomedical ethics 8th Edition. Oxford University Press, New York.

Bryant, B., Knights, K., Rowland, A. & Darroch, S. (2019) Pharmacology for health professionals 5th Edition. Elsevier Australia, Chatswood.

Caplan, A. & Parent, B. (2017) The Ethical Challenges of Emerging Medical Technologies. Routledge, UK.

Cummings, M. (2016) Human Heredity. Principles and Issues 11th edition. CENGAGE Learning, Boston.

Hiskes, R. & Hiskes, A. (2019). Science, Technology, And Policy Decisions. Taylor & Francis, UK.

Murphy, T. & Caplan, A. (2004) Cases in Biomedical Research Ethics. MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts

Saxena, A. (2019) Ethics in Science. Pedagogic Issues and Concerns. Springer, Singapore.

Walker, B., Colledge, N., Ralston, S. & Penman, I. (2014) Davidson's principles and practice of medicine 22nd Edition. Churchill Livingstone, London.

Witchel, H. (2020) Writing for Biomedical Students. Macmillan Study Skills, Bloomsbury, UK.

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