YML-20303 Philosophy of Science and Ethics in Molecular Life Sciences

Code last year: (YML-80303)


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper0
Group work8
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. WKP van Loon
Lecturer(s)dr. H van den Belt
Examiner(s)dr. ir. WKP van Loon
dr. H van den Belt
prof. dr. MF Verweij

Language of instruction:

Dutch and/or English.


During the course students get an overview of the theories, methods and debates in the ethics and philosophy in (the life) science. They analyse arguments in opinion articles on technology development. Moreover, they explore a specific societal controversy in the molecular life sciences, and they prepare a broader debate on that topic. In addition, during the course the students reflect on their ethics portfolios, in the light of knowledge gained in this course. The course can be completed only if all reports for the portfolio have been handed in and qualified as sufficient.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain and discuss major theories of science and scientific progress;
- know, apply and reflect on norms of good scientific conduct;
- understand differences between classical science and technology development;
- present societal controversies about developments in and applications of molecular life sciences, and distinguish the factual and normative/ethical dimensions of these problems;
- recognize and analyse patterns of argumentation in relation to such controversies;
- prepare a well-informed discussion about an ethical question in relation to Molecular Life Sciences;
- reflect on their own ethical and scientific commitments and (future) position in the Molecular Life Sciences.


- participate in lectures and group discussions about ethics and philosophy of the life sciences;
- write a group paper;
- together with other group members: prepare and lead a discussion on a societal problem in relation to MLS;
- analyse arguments in an opinion article;
- complete their ethics portfolio with a written statement in which they reflect their ethics portfolio so far, and in which they present their scientific and ethical commitments in the molecular life sciences.


- the students hand-in their complete ethics portfolio (go/no-go);
- they do a written exam and prepare a group paper (wiki) as basis for an ethical discussion.
The marks for the exam (40%) and the group paper (adjusted to each individual's contribution) (60%) jointly determine the mark for the course.
A minimum of 5.5 for each part is required.

Compulsory for: BMLMolecular Life SciencesBSc2AF, 5AF