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Course content

This online degree will allow you to develop the knowledge and skills to handle ethical issues as they arise in the workplace.

It’s specially designed to help people in business, the public sector, the professions, the third sector and walks of life to explore different approaches to ethical problems. You’ll look at the work of philosophers in applied ethics, but you’ll also look at real-life case studies to gain a real understanding of the role of ethics in the professional world. You’ll think about environmental issues, equality and diversity, privacy, consent and professional responsibility, guided by expert tutors at our Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre.

If you want to study without putting your career on hold, this online degree will allow you to study in your own time, wherever you are in the world. You’ll be able to discuss issues with professionals from a variety of backgrounds to gain a real insight into the ethical dimensions of workplace situations.

Students come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, and you’ll discuss ideas and share expertise with people from around the world. Current and recent students have studied while working in demanding roles for organisations such as UN agencies, the UK Police Force and the Commonwealth Secretariat, or in law, actuarial professions, development, engineering, management, dentistry and more.

This programme is also available to study full-time, and you could also study for a PGDip qualification where you take fewer modules overall. If you don’t have a degree, we usually ask you to register for the PGDip programme – you can upgrade to the MA if you progress successfully.

If you’re still not sure about applying to study for the MA, you could consider studying a single Applied and Professional Ethics Module as a stand-alone short course.

Course content

In your first year you’ll be introduced to principles and approaches in the study of ethics, and look at key workplace issues such as professional responsibility. You’ll then build on your knowledge as you go through the rest of the core modules – you’ll look at issues such as confidentiality, consent, contracts and diversity. You’ll be able to swap one module for an independent project, usually related to your line of work.

Throughout the degree you’ll be deepening your knowledge, improving your skills and gaining a new perspective on ethical issues. You’ll showcase all of this in your dissertation, where you’ll independently research a topic of your choice. You’ll submit this before the end of the programme in September of your final year.

Course structure

Compulsory modules

  • Introduction to Ethics: Reasons, Motivation, Obligations and Happiness 15 credits
  • Professional Issues 1 15 credits
  • Agents and Professional Responsibility 15 credits
  • Dissertation (MA students) 60 credits

Optional modules

  • Professional Issues 2: Privacy and Confidentiality 15 credits
  • Professional Issues 3: Consent and Contracts 15 credits
  • Justice: Fairness, Equality and Diversity 15 credits
  • Global Environmental Ethics 15 credits
  • Business Ethics 15 credits
  • Professional Ethics Project

For more information on typical modules, read Applied and Professional Ethics MA in the course catalogue

Learning and teaching

This degree is taught entirely online, so there are no lectures or seminars. You won’t even have to attend Leeds at any point during the course, although if you can travel there may be chances to meet other students. Instead, you’ll used specially designed interactive teaching materials and participate in structured collaborative activities. You’ll contribute to discussion groups in our Virtual Learning Environment, so you can share experiences and perspectives with students from different backgrounds worldwide.

Read more about Online Distance Learning


Because you study online, you won’t have to take any exams during this programme. Instead, most of the time you will be assessed using essays and coursework assignments. You’ll receive support from our tutors and be able to discuss your work with them before you submit it. Group projects, presentations and regular contributions to discussion forums may also be used to assess your progress in some modules.

Career opportunities

Studying applied ethics will allow you to develop transferable skills in research, critical thinking and communication. It will also give you more confidence to handle situations with ethical implications in the workplace.

All of this is good preparation for a range of careers, while it could also benefit you in your current role. In particular, the programme gives you scope to develop your career in growing areas such as compliance and corporate social responsibility.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Visit the Applied and Professional Ethics MA/PgDip page on the University of Leeds website for more details!






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