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International research ethics

Module leads

Michael Parker Michael Parker

Patricia Kingori Patricia Kingori

Learning objectives:


  • To have an understanding of international research ethics guidelines and to be aware of their limitations, including areas of ambiguity, controversy and gaps;
  • To understand and be able to explain the most important competing theoretical approaches to research ethics. To be able to explain the implications of these approaches and the tensions within and between them for practical ethical decision-making in medical research;
  • To be able to apply these approaches to cases and to be able to develop and articulate reasoned judgments about what constitutes ethical research practice;
  • To understand and to be able to discuss the on-going debate about the responsibilities of research actors to participants and communities during and after research;
  • To be aware of the importance of understanding research ethics in context and to be able to discuss the social dimensions of research in low income settings and relevant social science literature;
  • To understand the important role and limitations of the concept of ‘valid consent’ in research ethics and the particular challenges of achieving valid consent in low-income settings;
  • To be aware of and be able to debate the key ethical controversies and practical ethical challenges of data-sharing and data-driven approaches to research in population health.



  1. Introduction to international research ethics guidelines and areas of on-going controversy
  2. Ways of thinking about ethics: theories and practical ethics frameworks relevant to international research ethics
  3. Understanding research ethics in context
  4. Consent, harms and benefits and the role of research ethics committees
  5. Ethics in data sharing and biobanking