Assignment Overview

Item % of grade Due date
Participation 10% Ongoing
Midterm 20% 3/16
Homework 10% Ongoing
Case Study, total [see breakdown below] 40%  
[Annotated Bibliography] [10%] 3/23
[Written Report] [20%] 4/22
[Group Presentations] [10%] 5/6-5/13
Final exam 20% 5/25
TOTAL 100%  


Verbal discussion—such as taking and defending positions and asking or answering critical questions—is a vital part of the practice of philosophy. Consequently, the final grade for this class reflects this. Professor MacDougall takes note of student participation after class every day. Students must be present to participate, but for full credit must actively and verbally participate by asking critical questions, answering questions posed to the class, or volunteering ideas and thoughts relevant to class topics. Sometimes participation points can be gained by posting to an online discussion board or completing some other assignment (to be explained in class). Participation points can additionally be earned by contacting Dr. MacDougall by email or by arranging meetings during office hours. However, there is no way to get full credit for this segment of the class without active verbal participation. Exceptions may be granted in unusual circumstances by Dr. MacDougall if it is discussed at the beginning of the semester.



Homework will usually consist of short written assignments, announced the class before they are due. They will always be announced on OpenLab at least one class before they are due. Sometimes homework questions will be about readings; other times, they will require students to reflect on something discussed in class. There will be 3-4 homework assignments throughout the course of the semester. 



The midterm will cover material from the first half of the semester. Format will be explained during the midterm review session.



The interdisciplinary case study is a large component of the class, and students complete various portions of this assignment over the course of the semester. The final goal of the case study is for students to make an interdisciplinary presentations of their research and conclusions about the case their group has been assigned at the end of the semester. 

Students are divided into groups, and assigned a case. Each group will divide into separate roles (usually, one each of the following: Philosopher, Nurse, Physician, Editor). The student’s role determines the discipline in which the student will conduct research for the case, and forms the basis for their contribution to the final group presentation.

Each student is individually responsible to prepare two assignments, prior to meeting with their group: the Annotated Bibliography and the Written Report.

1. Annotated Bibliography

For this assignment, each student is required to identify and summarize research articles, selected from within the discipline of the student’s chosen role, that will help him/her to resolve the main ethical issue in the assigned case. Students will ideally utilize their research in both the Written Report and the Final Class Presentation, so it is important to do this assignment carefully and thoroughly!

Instructions and requirements for this assignment can be found in the handouts: 

1a. Researching your case

1b. Creating an annotated bibliography


2. Written Report

This assignment requires each student to prepare a carefully argued essay, employing research relevant to the student’s assigned role and case, that resolves the main ethical issue in the case. The arguments and evidence developed in the written report will form the basis of the student’s contribution to the Final Class Presentation assignment, so it is important to do this assignment carefully and thoroughly too!

For instructions, see the handout:

2. Preparing a written report for your case


3. Final Class Presentation

The final component of the case study requires students to work together with group mates from different disciplinary roles to present a set of coherent recommendations, along with supporting arguments, resolving the main ethical dilemma in the assigned case.

Instructions for this assignment are on the handout: 

3a. Preparing an interdisciplinary group presentation

For the grading rubric, see the handout:

3b. Group Presentation Rubric.



The final will be similar in format to the mid-term. It will focus primarily on material from the second half of the semester  (i.e., it is not cumulative, although in some cases students may find it advantageous to build on concepts learned in the first half of the semester). Format will be announced in the review session.