Module Overview

Professional Skills

The module will support the student’s core scientific training in providing an up-to-date introduction to bioethics, and the fundamental principles involved in molecular diagnostic development.  In parallel with knowledge acquisition, students will be provided with a platform to develop critical analysis skills in order to dissect these topics through individual and group work exercises.

The first segment of this module discusses the key considerations and skills required to create and develop diagnostics in a professional setting.

The aim of the bioethics component is to provide an introduction to bioethical theory and analysis, covering a range of topics that are relevant to the work of the modern life scientist.


Module Code

BIOL 2910

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Component 1:

This section of the module is divided into the following sections which discuss the key considerations and skills required to work in the field of molecular diagnostics.

  1. Research Methods and Technical Writing.

This section will provide students with a background to experimental design, statistical methods, technical writing and referencing.

  1. Introduction to Intellectual Property & Technology Transfer

Students will be exposed to the field of Intellectual Property & Technology Transfer and the role it plays in successful commercialisation on diagnostic development.

  1. Health and Safety in the workplace.

The aim of the health and safety component is to acquaint the student with the requirement for good laboratory practice, legislation and risk assessment in relation to the use of chemical, biological and physical hazards in the work place.

  1. Workplace placement professionalism.

The aim of this section of the module is to develop the skills necessary to apply for a work placement (e.g. CV and cover letter skills)

Component 2:

Bioethics: A definition of ethics, morality and bioethics. The major schools of ethical thinking: consequentialism and deontology. Virtue ethics, cultural relativism and humanist approaches. Deriving a framework for establishing the validity of an ethical conclusion.

Experimentation on human subjects: history and current practice. Eugenics. Current legislation. An introduction to the pharmaceutical development process. Good Clinical Practice guidelines. Informed consent. Clinical equipoise and conflicts of interest. The operational aspects of Medical Ethics Committees.

Experimentation on animals. Types of animals and procedures used. Current legislation. General Irish and EU statistics for use of animals for experimental purposes. Anthropocentrism. Species-ism. Religious perspectives. Sentience. Commoditization of life. The ‘three Rs’ and ‘five freedoms’ in animal experimentation. Genetic modification and cloning of animals and the concept of telos. Xenotransplantation. The concept of an animal as a bioreactor.

Ethical issues raised by agricultural biotechnology: genetically modified crops in the developed and developing worlds. The application of modern genetics to farm animals.

Ethical issues relating to diagnostic technologies. Genetic testing in humans: an outline of methodologies and uses (forensics, genetic disease diagnosis, predisposition analysis, prediction of response to medicines via pharmacogenomics). Privacy, confidentiality and counselling. Familial disclosure. Access to medical records by third parties. Diagnostic tests performed in the home. Biobanks.  Anonomyzation and coding of DNA samples and information.

Somatic and germ line gene therapy. The patenting of genes (eg., BRCA1) and living organisms (eg., Harvard oncomouse). The ethical questions pertaining to reproductive biology and stem cell cloning.

Bioethics: Lectures, discussion groups, self-directed learning.

Diagnostics development: Lectures, discussion groups and self-directed learning.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Other Assessment(s)100