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HNN714 - Ethical Dimensions of Nursing

Unit details

Year2017 unit information
Enrolment modes:Trimester 1: Cloud (online)
Credit point(s):1
EFTSL value:0.125
Unit chair:

Megan-Jane Johnstone





Incompatible with: HNN414
Contact hours:

Learning experiences are via CloudDeakin


This unit has as its focus a critical examination of the ethical dimensions of nursing. Using ethical principlism, moral rights, virtue ethics, and cross-cultural ethics as decision-making frames, the unit aims to provide students with an opportunity to explore and reflect critically on a range of key ethical issues arising in contemporary nursing practice and related health care domains. To this end, particular attention is given to the issues of: the nature of nursing ethics and the professional requirement to be ethical; the relationship between the legal, clinical and ethical dimensions of nursing; cross-cultural ethics; ethical decision making; vulnerability and dehumanisation; patients' rights to and in health care; mental health care ethics; matters of life and death (e.g. end-of-life decision-making; quality of life; politics of abortion and euthanasia/assisted suicide); professional judgment, moral quandaries and the demand to ‘take appropriate action’ to prevent harm (e.g., conscientious objection, whistleblowing, preventive ethics); professional obligations to report harmful behaviours (e.g., impaired practitioners and risks to patient safety, child abuse, elder abuse); and nursing ethics futures (e.g., moral issues posed by: climate change, peak petroleum, public health emergencies, pandemic influenza, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and the problem of inequities in health and health care).


Unit content:

  1. Introduction to the ethical dimensions of nursing and professional conduct
  2. Moral theory and ethical decision-making
  3. Ethics, dehumanisation and vulnerable populations
  4. Patient rights to and in health care
  5. Ethical issues in mental health care
  6. Matters of life and death
  7. Professional judgment, moral quandaries and taking ‘appropriate action’
  8. Ethical issues associated with reporting child and elder abuse
  9. Nursing ethics futures – challenges that lie ahead
  10. Conclusion, references and bibliography


Assessment task 1: Critical commentary on a select journal article OR prescribed case study addressing a substantive ethical issue (2000 words) 40%

Assessment task 2: Critical essay OR critical case study on a practice related ethical issue (3000 words) 60%

Prescribed texts

Johnstone M-J. 2016. Bioethics: A nursing perspective (6th ed.), Sydney, Churchill Livingston/Elsevier (Forthcoming). At the time of writing, the cost for the prescribed text is anticipated to be around $85.

Unit Fee Information

Unit fee information available soon

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