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Religion & Society Year 10 - Ethics: Home

Personal ethics - ethics and me, Global ethics, exploring ethics - exploration of ethical concepts and decision making, community/business ethics - the role ethics plays in the business world, medical ethics -issues, Oxford debate.



“Introduction to Ethics”

Course Description:


What is Ethics?   

Ethics is the study of human conduct in real life the     result of thinking about what the words “good” and “bad” mean when applied to our decisions.   

Why study ethics?   

The choices we make reveal not only our values but also determine who we are Making the ‘right’ choices will have a fundamental impact on our life as individuals, as communities, as the world. 







How can this subject help?   

“Introduction to Ethics” aims     to assist students in making a “Framework     for Ethical Decision Making”. This will help you decide on a position     about an ethical issue. You can then be confident you have considered the options available and that you will be able to defend your choice.   

What’s it got to  do with religion?   

Ethics is not just about personal choices.   

religious communities have always greatly  

influenced how individuals and communities   

behave – even if we don’t claim to be   

religious ourselves.


 What sort of topics can be considered in this “Introduction”?

·                     Personal issues include: personal freedom; truth telling; personal integrity; social relationships; decisions about sexual practice and drug usage, business practice; etc.

·                     Medical issues include: abortion; euthanasia; cloning of animals and humans; genetic engineering, including stem cell research; In Vitro Fertilisation; surrogacy; etc.

·                     Community issues include: capital punishment; censorship (including the role of the internet); sexual ethics and gender issues; marriage (including same sex parenting); freedom of choice; community responsibility; etc.

·                      Global issues include: climate change; response to terrorism; human rights; role of United Nations; relief of poverty; population control; international conflict; religious tolerance; international trade; refugees; etc.

Classes will be able to choose some of the topics to be considered (the religious impact of each issue discussed will be considered).

What books are needed?

Students supply a 128 page A4 Binder Book and 5 A4 Clear Sheet Protectors.

Please ensure that you have one of these books. Your teachers will require you to bring this to each lesson, and to paste in any handouts given in class. 

Teacher supplies class sets of : Chaos or Clarity: Encountering Ethics (Second or Third Edition)  by Kath Engebretson and Ray Elliott, or Ethics and Morality By Ray Elliott and Mary Tuohy, and other resources as appropriate. 

How is the course divided up?

This subject is taken over ONE Semester. There will be five units of work through the two terms (Terms 1 and 2, or Terms 3 and 4)

            First Term:-                three units.

            Second Term:-           two units, leading up to the exam (completion of Semester 2.

There is the possibility of the issues discussed in Units 2 being chosen by students in groups, and of the issues examined in Units 4 & 5 being chosen by individual students.

Each Unit will normally be of between 4 and 5 lessons duration. 

How often will we meet?There will be three Periods per cycle devoted to “Introduction to Ethics”. There is the possibility of these being combined classes, often held in the Lecture Theatre. Other lessons will normally involve just the one class group. We also will view films in the Memorial Hall, and have a session in the Function Room. 

What topics will be considered?In Term 1 we explore “Introduction” and “Case Study of a Personal Ethical Issue” as one Unit. Unit 2 involves a group presentation about a Global Ethical Issue. Unit 3  examines “Ethical Concepts”, using the film: “The Cider House Rules”.

In Term 2 we will explore a ‘Community Ethical Issue – Business Ethics’, followed by a Unit about “Medical Ethics”. This unit will conclude with an Examination assessing skills learnt during all five units. 


Each unit will conclude with an Assessment task. These will vary according to the issue chosen. There might include group presentations, essays, debates, research tasks, etc. However, Units 4 and 5 (undertaken in Term 2) will be formally assessed in the Examination. Specific details will be given (in the form of handouts) at the beginning of each of these units. 

Final Comments:

We believe this course will assist you in many ways, especially in terms of clarifying your approach to decision-making and preparing you for a range of VCE subjects.

We also are confident that you will find it interesting and provocative (and not too hard!!!), and we are especially wanting to make it – fun!!!

All the best for an interesting and successful semester. 

Mr Geoff Merrett, Mr Laurie Barton.  February, 2014.

The Ethics Quiz

What's your ethics IQ?  Find out in this interview with The Ethics Guy, Dr. Bruce Weinstein, on NBC's "Today in New York."

Power Point Introduction






Course structure Semester 1 2014





  Course Structure (this is a Semester Subject)

·        5 topics each exploring a different ethical issue over 3 to 5 classes

·        Three classes per cycle.

·        Assessment is in final lesson of topic. Completed in class. However, for final two units, Assessment is in Examination.

  • The Semester Examination will test your learning from all topics.


Week Beginning




Week 1



Unit 1:


 Structure of course

  • Ethics and me.
  • Oxford debate

Introductory Handouts/ Libguide:

“Semester Planner”

“Course Description”

Oxford   Debate”

Class Text

Chapter 1 Chaos or Clarity: Encountering Ethics (2nd Edition)


Week 2


Identifying Personal Ethical issues

Definition & issues

  • Chapter 2, pages 18+

Guidelines for ethical decision-making

Chaos or Clarity

Chapter 2


Film: “One Man Standing”


Week 3/4


Personal Ethics Scenarios

  • Chapter 2, pages 19+

Assessment 1 – Test

  • Personal Ethics
  • Scenarios


Chaos or Clarity

Chapter 2

Use information from notes,   discussions, handouts and text information from first 3 weeks.


Week 5


Unit 2:


Structure of Unit:

Working in small groups to research / prepare  presentation on a global ethical issue.

Chaos or Clarity

Chapter 13

Extensive use of IPADS/computers for Internet research and  potential for Power Point presentation.


Week 6/7


Global Ethics research and presentation preparation.

As above.


Weeks 8


* Assessment: Presentation to rest of Class.

As above.

Use of presentation space.


Week 9




Unit 3:


Exploration of ethical concepts and decision making.   Assessment Task 3 linked to Cider House Rules film.

Cider House Rules film.


Term 4

Week Beginning



    Week 10


Unit 3:


Exploration of ethical concepts and decision making.   Assessment Task 3 linked to Cider House Rules film.


Cider House Rules film.

Week 11


Unit 4:


Exploration of the role ethics plays in the business world




Chaos or Clarity

Chapter 6

Teacher Power Point.




Exploration of the role ethics plays in the business world.

       Assessment in Examination


Chaos or Clarity

Chapter 6

Teacher Power Point.


Weeks 13-14


Unit 5:


Students select medical ethical issue to research and   prepare individual presentation to class.(or teacher) – Assessment in Examination..


Chaos or Clarity

Throughout the text.

Extensive use of IPADS/computers for Internet research and potential for Power Point


   Week 15    

Assessment   4 –

Semester Examination

Topics Assessed:

Topic 1 Personal Ethics

Topic 2 Global Ethics

Topic 3 Ethical Concepts

Topic 4 Community Ethics

Topic 5 Medical Ethics

Oxford Debate

An Oxford debate allows participants to physically represent their thinking on an issue, and to demonstrate their support for the positions presented by others.

For each of the following statements, position yourself along the line depending on how much you agree or disagree. If you are unsure, or are yet to decide on the issue, ‘sit on the fence’ in the middle. If you feel strongly enough to want to make a point – stand on (or beside) the chair.


1.   Marijuana should be legalised for recreational use.

2.   Capital Punishment should be returned as a form of punishment in Australia.

3.   Condoms should be freely available in schools for secondary students.

4.    A person should never lie, except in position of needing to protect an innocent person.

5.     Animals should never be used in scientific experimentation.

6.     Active Euthanasia (mercy killing) should be legal in Australia.

7.     Australia should do more in resisting climate change. We must stop exporting coal.

8.     Cigarette smoking should be made illegal in all public open spaces.

9.      Abortion on demand should not be possible in Victoria.

10.    James Hird should not return as coach of Essendon FC.

11.    Pirating/downloading of CD’s or DVD’s should not be restricted by law.

12.     Logging of all native forests should be banned.

13.     Same sex couples should not be allowed to adopt or conceive children.

14.     The Catholic Church should remove all priests who did not report abuse in the past.

15.     Same sex marriage has been legalised in Britain. It should also should be legalised in Australia.

16.     Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited should be prosecuted for illegal practices (phone tapping) and he should be restricted from owning too many newspapers.

17.     Genetically modified food should be banned in Australia.

18.     Repeat offending rapists should be desexed.

19.     Racism of any kind is not acceptable on the sporting field.

20.     The Sea Shepherd crew members should be allowed to board Japanese whaling ships, and the Australian Government should not have to provide for protesters arrested overseas.

21.      Violent video games should not be available to children.

22.      A person should be free to do whatever they like, so long as no other person is hurt.

23.      Xenotransplantation (animal organs in humans) should be banned.

24.      It is wrong not to report a person you see shoplifting.

25.      Julian Assange should be put in prison for revealing Government secrets in Wiki Leaks.

26.       Athletes should be able to use performance enhancing drugs.

27.       Heroin should be legalised when under medical supervision.

28.       The United Nations should be able to undertake an aggressive response to a country violating human rights. The UN should intervene in the Syrian civil war.

29.       Australia should allocate a larger percentage of GDP to Humanitarian aid (not cut back, as our new Government has done).

30.       It is always important to support a friend, even if they are doing something you disagree with.

31.       Long term unemployed people should have to work to receive the dole.

32.        Mandatory reporting of child abuse is an invasion of the relationship between a counsellor and client.

33.        Surplus eggs from IVF programs should be available for stem cell research.

34.         The legal age for consuming alcohol (or gaining a driver’s licence) should be 16 years.

35.         Israel should be sanctioned for building homes in Palestinian areas.

36.         Full human cloning should be permitted when it is to replace a lost child.

37.         Torture should be permitted when a prisoner is suspected of terrorism.

38.          We should ‘turn back the boats’!