Bioethics Topics For Essay Assignment

Issues in Bioethics Assignments

Last update: 6 February, 2018

Instructions and Guidelines for all Written Assignments in this Course

All the assignments for this class are explained here (except for quizzes). It is imperative that all students read and print these out since grades depend upon careful reading of all instuctions.After reading this introduction and brief summary, click links or scroll down for instructions and further information on each assignment. NB: Quizzes are not covered on this page. Dates and instructions for the latter announced in class.

For help in research and basic writing skills, consult the following:

Short Assignments: Instructions and Grading Criteria

There are 5 Short Assignments worth 5% each, all based on assigned questions and due by the date indicated on Issues in Bioethics Home Page and Weekly Schedule under "Required Reading and Homework" for each week. Usually, this is the first class of the week. Short Assignments vary in length from one to two or more paragraphs, as indicated in the Weekly Schedule page. Questions for Short Assignments anticipate, accompany or follow topics and readings introduced in class and on the Issues in Bioethics website and textbook. They may also be connected to your Program Related Assignment and are designed to encourage your reading and reflection as well as to provide space to express your own ideas and prepare you for successful submission of the Program related Assignment. Keep all returned work in case review is necessary at the end of the semester. Answers to assigned questions for Short Assignments MUST conform to the following:

  1. All Short Assignments must be typed or computer printed (not handwritten), double spaced and use standard 1 to 1.5" (usually default) margins and 12' font size.
  2. Short Assignment number and title should appear on first line
  3. Student name, course title ("Issues in Bioethics"), section number and date of submission should appear on second line
  4. Rules of grammar, spelling count!
  5. All quoted material must be indicated by quotation marks and references (see "Tips on Essay Writing" or Academic Skills Center for help).
  6. All paraphrased material must be indicated by references (see "Tips on Essay Writing" or Academic Skills Center for help).
  7. All sources used must be properly indicated after the end of the answer under the title "Bibliography" or "Work(s) Cited" (underlined) (see "Tips on Essay Writing" or Academic Skills Center for help on how to write Bibliographies or Works Cited). Please use MLA style.
  8. The completed Short Assignment must be handed in by the date due in person at the beginning of the class.
  9. Late Short Assignments will not be accepted unless student provides evidence of a valid medical or other emergency. By "late" is meant at any point after the beginning of the class (i.e., 10 minutes after class has started).
  10. Short Assignments will be graded according to following criteria:
    1. Fulfilment of the points listed above:
    2. Familiarity and understanding of the required reading(s), terminology, key ideas or other material demonstrated.
    3. Answers to assigned question(s) are clear, relevant to question(s) asked and complete.
    4. Support and justifications for answer provided, including facts or reasons for your view (where applicable).
    5. Connection or relevance to ethical principle(s) or ethical theory(ies) (where applicable).

Example of Short Assignment. This is a one paragraph summary of an academic article on eating disorders with Bibliography (but no direct in text citations).
(Example modified from: “Citing and Documenting. Tips on Summarizing,” n.d., Date accessed 13 January, 2017, <> )

Program Related Written Assignment Proposal and Bibliography (online) (5%)

Objective and Instructions

This assignment requires you select a topic from the "Topics List for the Program Related Assignment" and provide a bibliography of the articles you will use to write this assignment. The Bibliography should be submitted in regular paper form but the proposal should be submitted online using the online form below.

The online form asks you to identify yourself, your program of studies, profile, describe your proposed topic, and provide a title for the topic you have chosen for your Program Related Written Assignment. In many, but not all cases, the "Topics List for the Program Related Assignment" page suggests specific topics and articles (with or without hyperlink) that may be found online.

The Bibliography requires you provide a list of all sources you propose to use (these may be added to and changed later), done properly in MLA sytle.

If you choose a topic for which there are no suggested articles, you will need to conduct research to find these for yourself and include them in the Bibliography. For topics which include suggested sources, you are encouraged but are not obligated to conduct further research.

Whichever the case, all sources you intend to use, as well as proposed title for your paper, should be indicated in the Bibliography.

Prerequisites: Before filling and submitting the online form:

  1. You've read this page, including "Program-related Written Assignment " (below)
  2. You've read "Topics List for the Program Related Assignment"
  3. You've selected a topic, found and read articles for a topic you are considering , whether from the Topcs List or not.
  4. You've conducted sufficient research and reading to confirm your choice of topics and are thus reasonably certain of the topic you wish to write about.
  5. Your topic is connected to your program of studies
  6. NB: Switching topics once you've submitted the online form is not recommended.

If you are ready, go to Program Related Written Assignment Proposal online form and submit form.

Instructions: Bibliography (Paper submission)

Please write a proper Bibliography of proposed sources for your program-related assignment in MLA format. Include, as well, propsoed title for your assignment. For help writing a Bibliography, consult Academic Skills Center or "Tips on Essay Writing"


  1. Narrow and well focused topic. (This is especially important to reemember if you are conducting research on a topic not listed in the Topics List or for which there are no suggested readings).
  2. Relevant to student's program of studies.
  3. Relevant to course content.
  4. Bibliography properly done (MLA style preferred)
  5. Bibliographic Sources: Quality
    • Reliable source (Academic or scholarly articles preferred and/or reputable source(s). See Library's page on Evaluating Information.
    • Sufficient length/information (example, 1-2 paragraph readings may not be sufficient!)
    Relevant to chosen topic

Sources: Where to find the articles.

Even for topics where sources are provided, additional search for information can help make a better essay. This is absolutely required for topics that do not have suggested articles. However, it is important to remember the significant investment of time that such searches may demand. This can be dramatically cut down if student has read suggested articles (if applicable) and has developed substantial background knowledge on the topic.

Such background knowledge can provide essential historical, contextual information, suggest suitable and specific topics and controversies within a larger field of knowledge and provide names of key terms, people and places essential for more well targetted searches. One source of such general background knowledge are Encylopdias, many of which are available in the library and online. Wikipedia can also be used but the information supplied therein should be confirmed by other sources.

Program-Related Written Assignment (30%)

Hand in a 5-7 (1700 - 2500 word) page (not including Bibliography) double spaced computer printed research paper on a bioethical topic connected to your program of studies using proper essay form, conforming to the rules of English grammar, including full references (“footnotes”) in the body of your essay, and proper use of quotations and bibliography. The topic must be the same as what was submitted with the online form.

  • Your topic must be relevant to your program of studies. See the Topics List for suggestions. "MIO" teacher as soon as possible if you canot find a topic connected to your program of studies.
  • Persuausive or Argument type essays are preferred. This is an essay which takes one side on a controversial issue. Learning about and engaging the opposing view respectfully and answering it is essential to success. For more on what an argument and persuasive essay is (see "Tips on Essay Writing" or Academic Skills Center for help).
  • Consult my "Tips on Essay Writing" for more help on essay writing, use of citations, references, bibliography, etc...
  • Consult the Academic Skills Center. Download the handouts for Term Paper and essay writing help.
  • Required: Please fill in Essay Writing Checklist (see below) and hand in, signed, with your paper. Papers will not be accepted without this Checklist.
  • NB: This assignment must be passed to pass the course. Even if you're overall grade is over 60, failure in this assignment will mean failure in the course.

Dates due:

Value: 30%

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Essay Writing Checklist

Please make sure to understand this checklist and have it with you whenever you are working on your paper. Check only the boxes you have done and hand in this sheet with your essay and your signature.
: Failure to pay attention to or understand requirements below may result in a zero grade or refusal to accept submission, especially for points #4 & #5.

  1. I've consulted with The Academic Skills Center and/or "Tips on Essay Writing"
  2. I've consulted teacher on any important questions that remain.
  3. I've written a complete draft of the paper and revised to fix any factual errors and errors in essay writing (organization, grammar, sentence problems, spelling, etc...) before final submission.(Suggestion : Leave draft alone for 24 hours then returned to it to ….Revise! Revise! Revise! )
  4. I've included quotation marks and references for quoted passages inside the body of the essay (suggestion: always include these in your earliest notes and drafts to save yourself headaches afterward! )
  5. I've included references for paraphrased or summarized material written in my own words inside the body of the essay.
  6. I've addressed the general reader (not just the teacher).
  7. I have an Introduction with a thesis statement (underlined)
  8. Every sentence is a full sentence (no frags, please!).
  9. Every sentence is relevant to the topic of its paragraph.
  10. Every paragraph is about a single topic.
  11. Every paragraph is connected to the thesis statement in some way.
  12. I have used a minimum of 4-5 sources, including at least two scholarly sources and 2 or more general sources
  13. The essay follows a logical organization (see Argument or Persuasive paper links on Tips page).
  14. The essay has a Conclusion.
  15. The essay is double spaced and printed.
  16. The essay has a properly constructed Bibliography or Works Cited page at the end of the essay.


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Bioethics Essay Assignment

Do the potential contributions to society warrant the potential risks inherent in synthetic biology?


By the conclusion of this research and writing activity, you should have :

  • researched the field of synthetic biology and its potential as a transformative technology
  • presented a clear and strong thesis statement about synthetic biology’s potential benefits and risks
  • used rhetoric and detail to present a strong argument that supports your thesis
  • explained synthetic biology concepts thoroughly and accurately
  • properly cited trustworthy research references
  • Define and properly use synthetic biology terms:
  • AbstractionDNA SynthesisiGEM
  • Define and properly use molecular genetics terms:
  • Biosafety Levels

Investigate Synthetic Biology

View Activity

Synthetic biology has emerged only recently as an engineering discipline. At this point, the field has more potential than accomplishment. Some people see an incredible potential that includes cures for diseases, biosynthetic fuels and houses that are grown from gourds. Other people question the safety of a process that involves altering genomes. There are some key enabling technologies, like DNA synthesis, that will make the building of biology easier — so easy that anyone could biohack the living world. But what happens then? Asked another way: what can you envision as the best and the worst outcomes for our world if we get good at coding cells in scalable, reliable and robust ways. And are there things we can do to tip the balance towards better outcomes?

Your assignment is to investigate synthetic biology using some or all of the following resources:


Decoding Synthetic BiologySynthetic Biology ExplainedFidelity Investments-Thinking Big


Write an Essay

Then write an essay in which you address this question: Do the potential contributions to society warrant the potential risks inherent in synthetic biology?

As you write the essay be sure to:

  • Provide an overview of the field of synthetic biology.
  • Describe some of synthetic biology’s potential benefits.
  • Describe some of synthetic biology’s potential risks.
  • Take a stand on the balance of risk to reward and explain your argument.
  • Examine the Bioethics Essay Grading Rubric.

Data Sharing

When you’ve finished your essay, be sure to upload your ideas to the BioBuilder site to see how they compare to what other BioBuilders around the country have thought. Email BioBuilder for the passcode to enter the data sharing portal.


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