Philosophy: Bioethics and Health

Reflecting on the changing medical ethical agenda
Programme of
Philosophy (2 years)
TitlePhilosophy, Bioethics and Health 

The two year Master's specialization in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health will provide you with the theoretical and practical tools to deal with ethical issues in health care. You will learn how to reflect on practical problems from a medical, moral, legal, political and economic perspective.

Overview
The need for interdisciplinary reflection is growing  as developments within society lead to new challenges in health care. For example shifts in responsibility: patients are expected to take greater responsibility for their own health and to ’manage themselves’ and insurers are becoming responsible for both the cost and the quality of health-care provisions. In addition, there are many rapid scientific and technological developments to take into account: from knowledge of the genetic basis of diseases,  pre-implantation diagnosis and IVF, to the use of plastic surgery for aesthetic enhancement.  Then there are the problems of just allocation caused by the growing number of treatment options for all kinds of diseases and the growing number of people living well into old age. Such developments  cause a change in the medical ethical agenda.

In the Philosophy, Bioethics and Health programme, you will acquire expertise in the area where medical ethics meets neuroscience and mental health. The expertise you will  acquire at VU Amsterdam is not covered by other Master’s programmes in the Netherlands.  It is the result of close collaboration between Faculty of Philosophy at VU Amsterdam and the Department of Medical Humanities at VU Medical Center, and the backgrounds of the course coordinators  and academic staff.

If you have a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences, Medicine, or Psychology, the programme is a great opportunity to obtain two Master’s  degrees: one in philosophy and one in your original discipline. Graduates with  two Master’s degrees are of great value to many health-care organisations.
With  Philosophy, Bioethics and Health you will be an attractive candidate for the position of clinical ethicist or advisor to the management and the board within  health-care organisations, health insurance companies, medical ethical committees and other organisations dealing with societal and ethical issues in healthcare.

Year one
You combine your non-philosophy Master’s with five of our courses in the first year: Philosophy 1 - 4, and Bioethics, Technology, & Law.

Year 2
The second year consists of four thematic courses, Philosophy 5, a practical training including a winter school in Oxford, a thesis seminar, and a thesis. Travel expenses for the Winter school will have to be covered by the students themselves, estimated at approximately 250 Euros.

Philosophy: Bioethics and Health courses in the study guide.

With Philosophy, Bioethics and Health you will be an attractive candidate for the position of clinical ethicist or assistant/advisor to the management and the board within health-care organizations, health insurance companies, medical ethical committees and other organizations dealing with societal and ethical issues in health care. As a holder of two degrees (if you take the full two-year programme), you will have an extra advantage on the labour market.

In the Philosophy, Bioethics and Health programme, you will acquire specific expertise in the area where medical ethics meets neuroscience and mental health. The specific expertise you will acquire at VU Amsterdam is not covered by other Master’s programmes in the Netherlands. It is the result of close collaboration between Faculty of Philosophy at VU Amsterdam and the Department of Medical Humanities at VU Medical Center, and the backgrounds of the course coordinators and academic staff taking part in this Master’s.

Two master's degrees 

If you have a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences or Law, the two-year Philosophy, Bioethics and Health programme is a great opportunity to obtain two Master’s degrees: one in philosophy and one in your original discipline. Graduates with two Master’s degrees are of great value to many health-care organizations.

If you have a Bachelor’s in Philosophy, you can take a modified two-year programme. In the first year, you will follow a range of complementary courses, preferably in the fields of Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Law, though other combinations may be possible.

Coordinators

Coordinator of the PBH Master’s programme: 
Prof. Gerben Meynen 
Telephone +31 (0)20 59 83948 
E-mail: g.meynen@vu.nl

Course coordinators: 
Prof. Gerrit Glas (Faculty of Philosophy) 
Prof. Gerben Meynen (Faculty of Philosophy) 
Prof. Bert Musschenga (Faculty of Philosophy) 
Prof. Guy Widdershoven (Department of Medical Humanities, VU Medical Center)

With the Master’s degree specialization in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health, VU Amsterdam aims to educate professionals in philosophy and medical ethics and foster their capacity to reflect on these issues.

Cognitive goals 
The knowledge that students acquire on this programme includes:

  • various normative ethical theories;
  • theory and methodology of empirical ethics research;
  • recent developments in moral psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience and their relevance for moral philosophy and medical ethics;
  • methodological, legal, and moral issues regarding medical research involving human subjects;
  • the role of the state, insurance companies, health-care providers and patients in various health-care systems;
  • factors influencing costs of health care;
  • theory and methodology of cost effectiveness assessment. 


Behavioural goals 
The competencies that students acquire on this programme include:

  • evaluating the relevance and limitations of argumentation in medical ethics;
  • applying various argumentative approaches to medical ethical problems;
  • participating in moral case deliberation;
  • integrating ethical reasoning, daily practices and legal rules and regulations;
  • assessing the quality of cure and care involving the public in health-care policy decisions;
  • writing texts, documents and background analyses to inform professionals, executive boards and participants in multidisciplinary discussions.
PBH groepsfoto
Winter School, January 2017. The Winter School (Oxford) takes place in the second year of the PBH MA programme.

Nathalie Notermans

Student

foto Nathalie Notermans

"The programme is inspiring and interesting! The lecturers are highly motivated. They all work as either doctor or in medical ethics which keeps their lectures up to date and practical."

Overview Philosophy: Philosophy, Bioethics & Health

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

2 years

TUITION FEE

APPLICATION DEADLINE

1 June for Dutch students / 1 April for international students

START DATE

1 September

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

SPECIALIZATIONS

Philosophy, Bioethics and Health is a specialization of the master's programme Philosophy (2 years).

FIELD OF INTEREST

Philosophy
Health and Movement

More information
To learn more about the programme and experience a lecture you can meet our master's students (Dutch).

Dutch students

Specific admission requirements for the two-year Master’s programme in Philosophy, specialization in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in Medicine, Health Sciences, Psychology, or related disciplines;
  • Eligibility to one of the three Health-related Masters: Medicine, Psychology, or Health Sciences. Most of our students aim at obtaining two Masters degrees, that is to say PBH as well as a Master’s in Medicine, Health Sciences, or Psychology (another health-related Master may also lead to admissibility, this is up to the admissions’ board).
Part of the PBH-program consists of courses that are offered by the Departments of Medicine, Psychology, and Health Sciences. Therefore it is a requirement that PBH-students are admissible to one of these three Masters, too. It is recommended to enroll in two Masters’ programmes (PBH and: Medicine, Psychology, or Health sciences).

Admissions 
All students who want to take the Master’s in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health, either alone or in combination with another Master, should register at the Faculty of Philosophy for the two year Master’s in Philosophy. Students who wish to take a double Master’s programme should also let the coordinator of their second Master’s know. International students can apply at www.vu.nl/application and Dutch students via application. For more information about programme details you may also contact the coordinator of the PBH Master’s programme: Prof. Gerben Meynen, g.meynen@vu.nl


Dutch students can apply via Studielink before June 1st for the master programme Bioethics and Health under the label Filosofie 2 jaar/Philosophy 2 years.

After you have applied for the master in Studielink, you will receive two emails with your login details for VUnet (VU studentportal). Please complete your application in VUnet . Don’t forget to fill in your specialization on VUnet : Bioethics and Health.

Next to this, you'll need to provide all the documents containing the information we need to decide whether you are admissible. The following required documents should be send to: toelating.fgw@vu.nl

  • application form (Dutch)
  • transcript of records (scan of original)
  • motivation letter
  • curriculum vitae
Your application will be reviewed by the Admission Board of Faculty of Humanities. You will be informed whether you have been admitted via Studielink.

For information about the programme you may contact prof. G. Meynen, g.meynen@vu.nl or dr. Suzanne Metselaar (vice-coordinator) s.metselaar1@vumc.nl

Information days
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International students

Specific admission requirements for the two-year Master’s programme in Philosophy, specialization in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in Medicine, Health Sciences, Psychology, or related disciplines;
  • Eligibility to one of the three Health-related Masters: Medicine, Psychology, or Health Sciences. Most of our students aim at obtaining two Masters degrees, that is to say PBH as well as a Master’s in Medicine, Health Sciences, or Psychology (another health-related Master may also lead to admissibility, this is up to the admissions’ board).

Part of the PBH-program consists of courses that are offered by the Departments of Medicine, Psychology, and Health Sciences. Therefore it is a requirement that PBH-students are admissible to one of these three Masters, too. It is recommended to enroll in two Masters’ programmes (PBH and: Medicine, Psychology, or Health sciences).

Admissions 
All students who want to take the Master’s in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health, either alone or in combination with another Master, should register at the Faculty of Philosophy for the two year Master’s in Philosophy. Students who wish to take a double Master’s programme should also let the coordinator of their second Master’s know. International students can apply at www.vu.nl/application and Dutch students may also consult the information in Dutch. For more information about programme details and admissions you may also contact the coordinator of the PBH Master’s programme: Prof. Gerben Meynen, g.meynen@vu.nl. 

English Language entry requirements

All students whose first language is not English including both home and international students must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is appropriate. This requirement is specified in order to ensure that the academic progress of students is not hindered by language difficulties.

Acceptable qualifications 
Listed below are all the English language qualifications and tests and the level required to satisfy our English language entry requirements. The qualification or test result must have been awarded no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment.

  • IELTS Academic Version: Overall grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the subtests.
  • TOEFL paper based test: Overall grade of 600 with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE. 
  • TOEFL internet based test: Overall grade of 100 with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests. 
  • Cambridge Advanced English: A, B or C.

Exemption 
Exemption from the requirements listed above can be awarded to students who have fulfilled the following requirements no longer than two years prior to the date of enrolment:

  • students who have fulfilled the requirements of the VU English language proficiency test TOEFL ITP, with the required scores. For more information please consult Taalloket.
  • Students with substantial education (minimum 12 months) conducted in English in an English speaking country.
  • Students holding an International Baccalaureate degree in English.

The required evidence should, if possible, be included with the complete application. If either unsatisfactory or no evidence of English language proficiency has been provided with the application, admission will be conditional upon the provision of such evidence. This condition will be clearly indicated on the offer letter and must be fulfilled before enrolment at the VU Amsterdam.

For information about the programme you may contact prof. G. Meynen, g.meynen@vu.nl or dr. Suzanne Metselaar (vice-coordinator) s.metselaar1@vumc.nl

International degree students 
For questions regarding our degree programmes for international students please contact: 

Irena Paap
Tel +31 (20) 59 85252
E masters.hum@vu.nl

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