Ethics teaching on 'Beginning of Life' issues in UK medical schools

Christopher Oldroyd, Lydie Fialova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medical ethics forms an essential component of an undergraduate medical programme. In the UK the Institute of Medical Ethics has released a consensus statement detailing its recommendations for a minimum curriculum for ethics. One important issue it highlights for inclusion is 'Beginning of Life', which includes a wide range of themes. This paper presents an evaluation of the current teaching and assessment of these important issues in UK medical schools, complemented by a specific analysis of students' reaction to the teaching they received at the University of Edinburgh as part of their Obstetrics and Gynaecology rotation. Schools which responded to the survey reported a wide range of teaching and assessment methods. While there was a good overall coverage of topics, only one of them was covered by every institution and the religious/cultural elements of those topics were often neglected. The medical schools viewed better clinical integration of ethics teaching as the best route to improvement, but the students reported a desire for more ethics teaching in the form of specific tutorials, lectures or discussions. It is likely that a combination of these approaches will lead to significant improvements in the delivery of ethics teaching in this area and in others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-53
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Beginning of Human Life
  • Consensus
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Female
  • Great Britain
  • Gynecology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Obstetrics
  • Schools, Medical
  • Scotland
  • Students, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

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