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Ethics teaching on ‘Beginning of Life’ issues in UK medical schools
  1. Christopher Oldroyd1,
  2. Lydie Fialova2
  1. 1The University of Edinburgh, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Centre for Medical Education, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Christopher Oldroyd, The University of Edinburgh, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, 49 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK; C.K.Oldroyd{at}


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.

  • Abortion
  • Education
  • Ethics
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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