Master’s in Bioethics

CBEC’s Master’s in Bioethics (MBE) is an intensive two year program intended for working professionals from diverse fields including medicine and research, philosophy, law, social sciences and education. Graduates from this program have strengthened existing networks in bioethics nationally and internationally through conferences and publications presenting developing world perspectives.

The program aims to nurture reflective abilities and critical thinking in students, and to inculcate in them habits of self-directed learning. Graduates of the program are expected to grow into future academic leaders at national levels and beyond, and to make scholarly contributions in bioethics in areas of research, education and clinical medicine with attention to existing socio-cultural contexts and economic realities.

The MBE degree is awarded by the Sindh Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) and recognized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.

MBE Admissions and Evaluation Policies

COVID related regulations for 2023 academic cycle

The first year of the MBE program consists of four contact modules featuring national and international faculty, and a distance learning component between contact sessions. The contact sessions are taught at CBEC in which MBE and Postgraduate Diploma in Bioethics students attend the same courses, seated around the table. The duration of the first three modules is approximately 2 weeks, while the last module is generally shorter. For MBE students, onsite learning is interspaced with reading, research and assignments in the intervening months.

Contact sessions

  • Foundations Module

The Foundations Module is taught over 2 weeks. It introduces students to the philosophical background of human moral thought extending from the Greeks to modern ethics. Other sessions cover the basics of moral traditions in different religions including Islam, historical interactions between ethics and law using paradigm legal cases, the evolution of contemporary bioethics and its globalization, and the importance of humanities (art and literature) in reflecting and shaping indigenous values in a society.

  • Research and Public Health Module

The second module is taught over 2 weeks. It is devoted to ethical issues involving human subject research and public health. Students are introduced to international guidelines for ethical research and the specific challenges of conducting ethical research within developing countries. Sessions are devoted to the functions of Institutional Review Boards/ Ethics Review Committees, and issues of conflicts of interest including those during interactions with the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Clinical Ethics Module

The third module, taught over 2 weeks, focuses on clinical ethics and highlights complex dilemmas emerging with the advances in biomedical science and technology. Case scenarios and discussions are employed to help familiarize students with ethical questions related to reproduction, genetics, end of life issues, organ donation, modern healthcare and practice among others. Workshops focusing on the basics of hospital ethics services and communication skills also form a core component.

  • Gender Ethics Module

The fourth and last module, spread over 5-6 days, provides students with a broad overview of ethical and legal debates pertaining to gender rights and relationships within societies with special attention to laws relating to women in Pakistan. Sessions also highlight the role of religion, including Muslim jurisprudence, in defining gender roles and its tensions with the human rights paradigm.

Distance Learning

Between modules, MBE students are required to contribute brief postings, commentaries or discussion points on the CBEC “Bioethics Blog” which is moderated by CBEC faculty. In addition, they are assigned extensive reading material for module coursework and MBE seminars. In the away period, MBE students also engage in in-depth research for written assignments related to courses taken and for MBE teaching sessions.

Pedagogical Tools

Adult learning methodologies are employed in all four modules, with an emphasis on discussion rather than didactic lectures. In addition to tools such as small group work and role play, movies and examples from art and literature are also included to highlight and discuss various ethical themes. MBE Seminars are sessions specifically conducted for MBE students in which course faculty joins students in examining issues in greater depth. In the last three modules, MBE students are also assigned topics to research and teach to the class.

Assessment Strategies

  • Contact Sessions

Within modules, MBE students are graded on quizzes, end of module tests and teaching sessions led by MBE students on assigned topics. Students are also assessed based on their participation in class discussions based on which they are provided extensive feedback by the faculty.

  • Distance Learning

Faculty evaluate and provide extensive critique on the arguments and analysis presented in Bioethics Blog postings and comments made by students. In addition, during the away periods, MBE students are required to submit mandatory ‘take home’ written papers connected to module courses which are graded by faculty. These assignments can include material covered during the previous module and critical review of new materials sent to the students, which may include articles, book chapters, books, etc.

MBE Thesis

The second year of the MBE program is devoted to conducting original research leading to a 15,000 to 18,000 worded thesis. The thesis, due no later than October of the second year, must be approved by the Thesis Review Committee in order for students to be awarded the MBE degree. Research conducted must be original in nature involving either one or a combination of qualitative, empirical, and quantitative methodologies. Comprehensive literature review and analysis of a suitable, ethics-related topic are also acceptable for the thesis. Students are provided with faculty supervisors to guide their research and thesis writing.

The MBE is designed for mid-career professionals holding at least an undergraduate degree (equivalent to Bachelor of Arts/Science, etc.) degree and working within primary fields such as healthcare, social sciences, philosophy, law, education, humanities, etc., and who wish to incorporate relevant aspects of bioethics within their workplaces.

A minimum of five years of work experience in the primary field following the basic qualification is necessary. CBEC has a merit based admissions policy with no discrimination on the basis of gender, age, religion or ethnicity.

Application Process

The academic cycle at CBEC begins in January but the admission process starts at least 6 months earlier. At the commencement of the admission cycle, information regarding the admissions process is displayed on the CBEC website. Additionally, information is also disseminated through newspaper advertisements, social media platforms, email lists and any other means available.

Shortlisted MBE applicants are required to appear in a mandatory English Language Comprehension and Writing Skills Test because the program requires extensive reading and written assignments in English. Only those candidates who display required level of proficiency in English are invited for MBE interviews. Interviews are conducted by members of Admission and Selection Committee. These can take place at CBEC in Karachi, and if required, organized in other cities, or remotely through Zoom or similar means.

Applicants who are unable to achieve the required level of proficiency in English but judged to be strong contenders otherwise, may be invited to interview for the concomitantly run, one year duration, Postgraduate Diploma in Biomedical Ethics (PGD) program. Please note that being called for the interview does not guarantee admission into the PGD program.

Decision of the Admission and Selection Committee, made on the basis of strength of application and support documents, performance in the English test, and interviews, is considered final.

Application Requirements

MBE applicants must complete all sections of the application form and submit it along with all required documents listed below no later than the given deadline. Late and / or incomplete applications will not be processed.

  1. Application Form (Electronic Submission)
  2. Documents (to be uploaded with the application form and also separately emailed to cbec.siut@gmail.com in a single email, as attachments):
    1. Brief curriculum vitae
    2. Essay: Submit a 700-750 word essay in your own words, describing an event or encounter in your life that has had a major and/or lasting impact on you. The essay should be a MS Word document, using Times New Roman script, with font size 12 and double line spacing. The essay should be saved with the applicants’ surname, e.g. malik.doc before uploading and emailing as an attachment. Note that the essay will also be screened for plagiarism.
    3. Attested scanned copy of undergraduate degree (e.g. MBBS, or BA/BS)
    4. Attested scanned copies of other relevant qualifications/fellowships
    5. Scanned letter of support (for full time employed applicants only) from the relevant institutional head on a letterhead. This letter should state that the institution supports you in acquiring this qualification, will ensure that you are able to attend all modules at CBEC, and participate in the distance learning components. For a sample letter of support, please click here.
    6. Two samples of your written material, such as articles preferably academic publications, reports, projects etc. Provide hyperlinks to articles accessible online or upload and email scanned copies
    7. Scan of a recent photograph
  3. Two letters of recommendation addressed to Prof. Farhat Moazam, Chairperson, Centre of Biomedical Ethics and Culture, SIUT. (These should be emailed in confidence only to Dr. Moazam directly by persons recommending you to the following email addresses: famoz@mindspring.com & famoz2008@gmail.com): The letters, preferably on a letterhead, should be from individuals in responsible positions, who know you and believe that you are suitable for pursuing formal education in bioethics. For more information regarding letter of recommendation, please click here.

Important

In case of difficulties in uploading or emailing the aforementioned documents, please contact cbec.siut@gmail.com.

Please note that applicants shortlisted for interviews will be required to bring originals of all submitted documents and two passport size colored photographs.

COVID-19 Related Regulations

  1. All applicants will be required to submit proof of vaccination against COVID in addition to having received a booster dose, as per current Pakistan government regulations.
    1. Unvaccinated applicants must provide valid evidence of a medical contraindication, duly certified by an ID physician. The Admission and Selection Committee will assess for acceptability or otherwise.
  2. Pakistan government SOPs in place at the time will be applicable during the module, including use of masks and social distancing.
    1. Students will be expected to abide by any additional precautions faculty considers necessary during the module.
  3. Students are expected to be present during all days of every module. Per existing policy, absence for any reason may result in being dropped from the program
    1. Based on faculty discretion, students dropped due to unexpected illness including COVID, may be provided preference in admission to the following academic cycle of the program.

Skills

Applicants must have good reading, comprehension, and writing skills in English in order to handle coursework which includes extensive readings and written assignments. In addition, it is essential that applicants possess basic competency in computer skills including the use of email, MS Office programs, web-based searches, social media applications, and the capacity for connecting for video conferencing using Zoom or similar applications. Students are responsible for maintaining unrestricted access to broadband internet and a suitably equipped computer to enable participation in distance learning assignments.

Academics

MBE students are required to maintain a grade average of 65% (C+) in order to continue in the program. If despite faculty assistance and counseling a student does not attain the required minimum grade average, she/he may be asked to leave the program. Based on overall performance and faculty evaluation, the CBEC Faculty at its discretion may offer such candidates an opportunity to transfer to the one year Postgraduate Diploma in Biomedical Ethics (PGD) program. The PGD runs concomitantly with the MBE program and is taught by the same faculty, but has less rigorous writing requirements from students.

Punctuality

Other requirements are punctuality, full attendance and active class participation in all 4 modules, and satisfactory and on-time completion of all assignments including those related to distance learning components. Students may be dropped from the program in case of any absence.

Thesis

Submission of the thesis by the given deadline (generally October in the program’s second year) and its approval by the Thesis Review Committee are mandatory for graduation from the MBE program. If the Thesis Review Committee finds that the submission does not meet required standards, the student will be asked to resubmit within an appropriate deadline. If the resubmission is also found to be below standards, the student will not receive the MBE degree. If she/he has satisfactorily completed and passed all required MBE course work in the first year of the program, CBEC faculty may recommend to the Department of Medical Education, SIMS that the student be conferred a Postgraduate Diploma in Biomedical Ethics instead.

Tuition

CBEC-SIUT waives the tuition fee of all students selected into the Master’s in Bioethics program and provides all reading material for courses electronically, at no cost. Lunch, tea, and snacks are also provided free during the modules held in Karachi.

Accommodation

Subject to availability, free accommodation (without meals) may be offered at the SIUT residential apartments for out-of-town candidates on a twin sharing basis. The apartments provide free Wi-Fi for use by students.

Transport

Complementary daily transportation between the SIUT apartments and CBEC is provided for the duration of the modules in Karachi. Travel to and from Karachi for out-of-town students will be their own responsibility. CBEC-SIUT will however provide airport pick and drop services for non-Pakistani students to facilitate their arrival and departure. Pakistani students will be responsible for their transport arrangements to and from the Karachi airport. Several reliable radio cab services at the airport are easily available and can be utilized.

Facilities at CBEC

All four modules take place in CBEC in Karachi in a facilitative learning environment. CBEC is located on the 7th Floor of the Suleman Dawood Transplant Tower, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) on Yaqub Khan Road. Adequate workspaces, computers, internet access, a library and photocopying facilities are available on site.