• Human organ transplantation
• Sequencing of the human genome
• Antibiotic resistance
• Animal experimentation
• Ethics of stem cell research
• Patents and the commercialization of research
In the past 20 years Biology has had a major impact upon society. For example advances in DNA technology and cloning have resulted in transgenic crops that are already a part of the human diet, and form an increasing percentage of worldwide production. The practice of cloning animals has raised serious ethical concerns – designer dogs?, and some argue that this may open the door to a form of human eugenics. We now possess a complete map of the human genome. Ageing research may lead to lifespans of well over a century; with the link established between age and incidence of dementia is this a welcome development?
What will be the impact of this knowledge? What legislation will be necessary to control the way science could manipulate life? Who will make the decisions? Scientists or politicians? These are some of the questions addressed by this module.
The structure of this module is a departure from the traditional series of lectures to which you have been accustomed. Some sessions may depend upon your active participation and extensive background reading may be required. You will survey in detail two separate topics then write an essay based on one and give an oral presentation based on the other.
To pass this module students will need to be able to:
1. explain the impact of modern biology on society;
2. research the legal, social and scientific background to topics of interest using a range of sources of information;
3. discuss the wider social, economic and policy implications of selected, current biological issues;
4. demonstrate skills in written and oral presentation.
- Module Supervisor: Gareth Jones