ETHC08006 2016 Ethics, Practice and Policy

General Details

Full Title
Ethics, Practice and Policy
Transcript Title
Ethics, Practice and Policy
N/A %
Subject Area
ETHC - Ethics
SOCS - Social Sciences
08 - NFQ Level 8
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2016 - Full Academic Year 2016-17
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Manus Charleton, Chris Sparks, Natalie Delimata
Programme Membership
SG_WSOCI_H08 201600 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Care Practice SG_HSOCI_H08 201700 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Care Practice SG_HSOCI_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Sciences in Social Care Practice SG_WSOCI_H08 202100 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Sciences in Social Care Practice

Students will explore the basis for the ethical values and principles which inform, guide and justify the best practice in applied social and child care. They will deepen their understanding of the ethical underpinnings of professional care values and codes of practice. In particular, students will integrate theory with practice and develop their capacity for moral reasoning and evaluation in making decisions for the care of service users in a range of circumstances of varying complexity. Drawing from their understanding of values and principles, they will also critically evaluate policies and services in relation to the needs of service users and advocate for improvements.  Overall, students will develop confidence in knowing what the right thing to do should be from their familiarity with a body of ethical knowledge and understanding which supports their work in caring for others.

This module maps to the CORU Standards of Proficiency below:

Domain 1 Professional Autonomy and Accountability

Domain 3 Safety & Quality

Domain 4 Professional Development

Domain 5 Professional Knowledge and skills

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Analyse and evaluate the circumstances of service users to enable them experience wellbeing, in particular through their self-empowerment, by understanding the relation between wellbeing and the practice of virtues, such as determination, courage, honesty, and consideration for others, drawing from Aristotle's virtue theory and its contemporary developments by MacIntyre and Nussbaum (Domain 1.3, 1.5, 1.19, 3.5, 4.4, 5.13)


Apply principles of respect and care, based on Kant's understanding of each as a rationally justifiable duty, in particular in cases where a client's voluntary decision and his/her protection from a risk of harm are an issue (Domain 1.3, 1.5, 1.17, 3.5, 4.4)


Appraise the value of empathy for understanding, and respecting, the individuality and person-centered nature of service users and for developing adequate moral perceptions, drawing from Feminist ethics (Domain 1.3, 1.5, 3.5, 4.4, 5.19)


Apply 'the greatest happiness principle' to support a viewpoint in casework and policy improvement and evaluate its merits as an adequate principle in light of the basis for it and its implications in practice ( Domain 1.3, 1.5, 3.5, 4.4, 5.13)


Evaluate the arguments for pluralism and relativism in morality as a basis for acceptance of difference and diversity in society and manage appropriately the relation between professional care values and principles and differing value practices and behaviours of service users. (Domain 1.22, 3.5, 4.4)


Analyze examples of human rights issues, such as income inequality, child poverty and service provision for those with disability, drawing from human rights theories such as natural law and showing the relation between theories and specific human rights provisions in international agreements and domestic laws. (Domain 1.3, 1.5, 1.19, 3.5, 4.4, 5.3)


Appraise the relevance of social justice to social care provision and advocacy and compare and contrast the basis for social justice in the theories of Rawls, Sen and Nozick (Domain 1.3, 1.5, 3.5, 4.4, 5.2)

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lectures involving significant Q & A time. In these lectures, the key concepts and issues are presented, analysed and collectively discussed.

tutorials: the tutorials are focused on the continuous assessment which comprises a case study involving ethical dilemmas around care practice. In the tutorials, the key concepts and ideas discussed in the lectures are brought to bear on care practice.

Module Assessment Strategies

Case Study/Essay: individual students to address a typical care work scenario and apply ethical principles derived from discussions of ethical theories to their practice of effective care

Final Exam: in which students address another case study and also write an essay on the practical utility of applied ethics to care scenarios with reference to the major ethical theories studied in the module. 

This module assessment allows for assessment of CORU Standards of Proficiency as follows:

Case Study/Essay(Domain 1.3, 1.5, 1.17, 1.19, 1.22, 3.5, 4.4, 5.2, 5.3, 5.13, 5.19)

Final Exam: (Domain 1.3, 1.5, 1.17, 1.19, 1.22, 3.5, 4.4, 5.2, 5.3, 5.13)

Repeat Assessments

Students will repeat the assessed task which has not been completed or has failed to pass on the first attempt

Indicative Syllabus

The following values and principles are explored using case studies and examples in relation to best care practice and best social policy provisions:


  • Role of reason in relation to desires and feelings
  • Making virtuous choices and decisions on the basis of the mean between the extreme and deficiency of desires and feelings
  • Care practices supported by the nature of wellbeing: client self-empowerment, practical assistance, social inclusion, development of potential.

Respect and Care

  • Role of will and reason in deciding between right and wrong conduct by universalising intentions as a moral principle and avoiding contradiction
  • The rational justification of respect and care as required duties
  • Care practices supported by respect and care: client self-determination, providing for informed consent, equality of treatment, qualified confidentiality, reporting malpractice, fulfilling a duty of care
  • The values of respect and care in relation to professional care values and codes of practice 



  • Meaning of empathy, its distinction from sympathy and pity
  • Why empathy is necessary for understanding clients while necessarily providing incomplete knowledge and identification with a client's experience
  • The Feminist view of empathy as natural emotion arising from human attachment, interdependence and experience of being cared for
  • The Feminist view of the need for an empathetic response for adequate moral perception and knowledge in light of service user as an other
  • The justification for regarding clients as particular individuals with specific life histories, needs and desires and relating to them with an open and attentive mind.

The Greatest Happiness Principle

  • Source in Bentham and Mill's utilitarian ethics
  • The basis for the principle in the equality of moral status and equal desire of all for happiness
  • Happiness understood as pleasure and avoidance of pain or satisfaction preference
  • Estimating consequences for the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people of possible decisions/courses of action as the means of measuring happiness 
  • Why relief of suffering and hardship for a minority at the expense of some loss of happiness of a majority can be justified as providing for the greatest happiness overall
  • The strengths and weaknesses of the theory applied to casework and policy


Acceptance of Moral Difference

  • The basis for a difference in individual/group views and culture
  • The basis in philosophical arguments, such as psychological egoism
  • The support for care goals of treating all people equally and inclusively
  • Limits to accepting a full relativist view; examples where difference conflicts with best care practice.

Human Rights

  • Source of human rights in theories of common human nature
  • A relation between natural law theory and human rights agreements
  • The relevance of a rights-based approach to disability services in particular to realise equality rights

Social Justice

  • Differing views of social justice: fairness (Rawls), the entitlement of individuals (Nozick), the merits of cases (Sen), Social Contract theories (e.g. Hobbes and Rousseau)
  • Implications of social justice views for care practice and social policy
  • Social justice and social care advocacy

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Essay applying material from outcome 1 or 2 to case or issue Continuous Assessment Individual Project 40 % Week 8 1,2

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Final Exam 2 hour written paper comprising selection of unseen questions drawn from outcomes 1-7 Final Exam Closed Book Exam 60 % Week 15 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Self Study 3 Weekly 3.00
Lecture Lecture Theatre Lecture 1 Weekly 1.00
Lecture Lecture Theatre Lecture 1 Weekly 1.00
Tutorial Flat Classroom Tutorial 1 Weekly 1.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Required Textbook:

Charleton, Manus, Ethics for Social Care in Ireland: Philosophy and Practice (Gill and Macmillan, 2007)

Recommended Reading:

Banks, Sarah, Ethics and Values in Social Work 4th Ed. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Banks, Sarah and Kirsten Nohr Eds. Teaching Practical Ethics for the Social Professions (European Social Ethics Project 2003, A FESET publication)

Banks, Sarah, Editor, Ethical Issues in Youth Work 2nd. (Routledge, 2010)

Banks, Sarah & Gallagher, Ann, Ethics in Professional Life: Virtues for Health Care and Social Care (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

Sandel, Michael, J. Justice What's the Right Thing To Do (Allen Lane, 2009)

Gopnik, Alison, The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life (Picador, 2009)

Walls, John, Ethics in Light of Childhood (Georgetown University Press, 2010) Available as ebook

Held, Virginia, Justice & Care: Essential Readings in Feminist Ethics (Westview Press, 1995)

Hamington, Maurice, Embodied Care: Jane Addams, Maurice Merleau-Pont and Feminist Ethics (University of Illinois Press, 2004)

Tronto, Joan, C., Moral Boundaries : A Political Argument for an Ethics of Care (Routledge 1993).



Other Resources


Additional Information