YML-20303 Responsibility and Reflection in Molecular Life Sciences


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper0
Excursion (one day)16
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. WKP van Loon
dr. ZH Robaey
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. MF Verweij
dr. ZH Robaey
Examiner(s)dr. ir. WKP van Loon
prof. dr. MF Verweij

Language of instruction:



In this course the students reflect on Molecular Life Sciences in several ways: on possible societal controversies, on their own role as scientist and on their future as graduate. 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. For reflecting on their role as graduate Molecular Life Sciences, so as a Molecular Life Scientist, student will visit at least two possible future employers. They will write a small report on these visits.  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;

- visit at least two relevant future commercial or non commercial employers during an excursion

-reflect on these visits in a small report
- 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);

-the students hand-in their reflection on the excursions (go/no-go)

-all papers are discussed in a final meeting with the programme director
- 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 SciencesBSc1AF, 5AF