SRSP 16-19 Topic 6 U1c – Medical Ethics and Biotechnology


Medical ethics is an ever-increasing field of interest as new scientific discoveries enable more and more advanced techniques to be carried out on humans and other living things. In this unit, the topics of Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), lesson 1, and Genetic Engineering, lesson 2, are discussed.

Both of these areas have links with the other two units under Topic 6 ‘Ethical Issues’. 6a focuses on Environmental issues, and 6c on Animal Rights. PGD is a procedure that allows genetic analysis to be carried out on an early embryo before it is implanted in the womb. It was introduced in 1989 to allow couples at risk of having a child with a genetic condition to avoid doing so, without the need for a termination once implanted in the mother’s womb.

This unit consists of 3 lessons and is suitable for students aged from 16 to 19 years


Key Questions

  • To what lengths should we go to eradicate genetic disorders?
  • When does an embryo become a human being?
  • In using Genetic Engineering are we trying to play God?
  • Who is to say what a ‘perfect’ human being is?
  • To what extent should nature be subjected to Genetic Engineering?

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Unit Resources

Unit Overview (Word)

Link to Francis Collins video [Need to be online]


Lesson 1

Lesson Plan: Pre-Implantation Genetic Engineering (PGD) (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 1: Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 2: Possible responses to using PGD (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 3: Script for Gattaca (Word)


Lesson 2

Lesson Plan: Genetic Engineering (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 4: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 5: The History of Genetic Engineering (Word)

Student Resource Sheet 6: Proposals for Genetic Engineering (Word)

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