spring 2019
HEL-8010 Research Ethics and Theory of Science - 6 ECTS

Application deadline

PhD students and students at the Medical Student Research Program at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway go directly to StudentWeb to register for class and exam. Registration deadline 1 september for autumn semester and 1 february for spring semester.

Other applicants: Application deadline is 1 June for autumn semester and 1 December for spring semester. Application code 9303 in SøknadsWeb.

If granted admission you have to register for class and exam by February 1st.

Type of course

The course is a basal course at the PhD programme in Health Sciences. This course is available as a singular course.

Admission requirements

PhD students or holders of a Norwegian master´s degree of five years or 3+ 2 years (or equivalent) may be admitted. PhD students must upload a document from their university stating that they are registered PhD students. This group of applicants does not have to prove English proficiency and are exempt from semester fee.

Holders of a Master´s degree must upload a Master´s Diploma with Diploma Supplement / English translation of the diploma. Applicants from listed countries must document proficiency in English. To find out if this applies to you see the following list:

Proficiency in English must be documented - list of countries

For more information on accepted English proficiency tests and scores, as well as exemptions from the English proficiency tests, please see the following document:

Proficiency in English - PhD level studies  

It is recommended that the course be taken at an early stage in the PhD programme.

Recommended prior knowledge: Basic knowledge of scientific theory and ethics E.g. preparatory exam in the history of philosophy and science.

If you do not have a this prior knowledge we recommended this literature before the course starts:

A. Rosenberg. Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction. Routledge, 2012. ISBN 978-0-415-89177-6. 300 pages.

Medical ethics: a very short introduction Tony Hope Oxford: Oxford University Press ISBN: 9780191516627

Course overlap

If you pass the examination in this course, you will get an reduction in credits (as stated below), if you previously have passed the following courses:

SVF-8038 Research Ethics 3 stp
BIO-8301 Basic Course in Biomedical Science 5 stp
BIO-8603 Philosophy of science and ethics 3 stp
PSY-8010 Research ethics 3 stp
SVF-8600 Philosophy of science and ethics 3 stp
HEL-8040 Theory of science, research ethics and research design 5 stp

Course content

Research Ethics and Theory of Science aims to ensure that students acquire basic skills within scientific theory, research ethics and other frameworks for health research, and are thus able to exercise good professional judgment and contribute to high-quality research work in the future.

Objectives of the course

Once they have completed the course, students will have acquired basic skills in scientific theory and ethics. The learning outcomes may be described as follows:


Students will:

  • Have a knowledge of the history and development of research ethics
  • Have an insight into the legislation and ethical guidelines providing the framework for medical and health research
  • Recognize the function of ethical research committees in Norway and case procedures for the approval of medical and health research projects
  • Have an insight into problems of misconduct and grey areas and fraud in research ethics
  • Have a knowledge of the elementary features of the historic development of scientific philosophy
  • Be able to see the importance of scientific theory for critical knowledge development


Students will be able to:

  • Apply ethical and scientific theoretical philosophies in their own research project
  • Prepare a Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (REC) application for a research project and discuss the ethical challenges of the project
  • Recognize unfounded assumptions in medical and health research
  • Discuss the key problems of modern scientific philosophy


Students will be able to:

  • Identify new research ethics problems and provide input to the research ethics debate
  • Identify new scientific theoretical problems and provide input to the scientific theoretical debate
  • Act with moral integrity and theoretical scientific humility in a research context
  • Contribute to constructive analysis of the social consequences of health research

Language of instruction and examination

English will be the main language during the course.

Language of examination is English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

Teaching methods

The sessions will consist of three full days, which will primarily be organized in such a way that the basics are taught at the start of the day, followed by active student teaching groups. The groups will remain the same throughout the course. Students will take turns in leading the group sessions themselves. A lecturer should preferably be present as mentor. Group members must work together on the work tasks.  There is an 80 percent attendance requirement for all session teaching, including group teaching.


The following requirements must be met in order to be admitted to sit the examination ( work requirements ):

  • Documentation of 80 percent attendance at the sessions
  • Three approved work tasks: One oral presentation given from the course literature and two written assignments connected to the REC application (preparation of an application and evaluation of an application).

The course is concluded with a written take-home examination in the form of an essay that must be submitted two weeks after the final session. The addressed problem in the essay must be submitted by the deadline specified for approval in Canvas. A template for the essay and example essays are available.

A grade of pass/fail will be awarded to those who take the course.

In the event that an exam is evaluated as not passed, there will be an opportunity to submit a revised exam paper at the beginning of the next semester. Registration deadline for the continuation exam is August 15th for the spring course and January 15th for the autumn course.

Recommended reading/syllabus

Theory of Science

In English: Johansson I. & Lynöe, N. (2008). Medicine & Philosophy: A twenty-first century introduction. Heusenstamm: Ontos verlag. (chapters 1-6, 200 pages)

Research Ethics

Medical ethics: a very short introduction. Tony Hope. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780191516627

Error rendering component

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 6
  • Course code: HEL-8010
  • Tilleggsinformasjon
  • PhD students at UiT
  • External applicants
  • Course information
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet