Learn at Your Convenience

Penn's Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy offers the training you need in research and clinical ethics. Sign up to learn in brief segments as suits your schedule and interests. For a broad view of research or clinical ethics, choose a core course, which takes about three hours to complete. For specialized topics, soon you will be able to try a micro course—a burst of learning, roughly an hour long. Each includes lecture videos, readings, supplementary resources, and assessments.

Learn at your convenience online, including on mobile devices. Join our mailing list to be notified when additional continuing education courses, including clinical ethics and behavioral health care topics, are available.

Ethics of Human Research Series

This series is designed to provide basic knowledge and skills on how to make ethical evaluations on research protocols, including understanding of specific ethical requirements and regulations, to clinicians and those required to train in the protection of human research participants.


Ethics of Human Research preview video
Preview video: Ethics of Human Research continuing education course

Featured Courses

CORE: Ethics of Human Research

This course examines the history and philosophy of the ethics of research with human subjects, its core principles, and the guidelines that govern institutional review boards in the United States. It offers an overview of key documents including the Nuremberg Code, the Belmont Report, and the Declaration of Helsinki. It includes practical information about guidelines for ethical research in the United States, including 45 CFR 46 and its provisions on institutional review boards (IRBs). It provides a framework of eight ethical principles by which researchers can measure the ethical implications of a research study. And using that framework, it examines the ethics of several well-known research studies.

Primary content areas:

  1. The History and Rationale of Research Ethics
  2. Eight Principles of Ethical Research
  3. The Common Rule
  4. Assessing Ethical Research Practices

Learners who successfully complete Ethics of Human Research will be able to do the following:

  • Summarize the various guidelines of ethical research.
  • Review the eight-principles framework for evaluating the ethics of research studies.
  • Apply this framework to determine whether a research study is ethical or not.

Course Details

MICRO: Neuroethics

Neuroethics examines the history and philosophy of the ethics of neuroscience research. It takes a topical approach, addressing key issues in neuroscience fields including the problem of incidental findings, the representation of neurological breakthroughs to the public, and the role of devices and chemicals in closing neurological deficits and potentially enhancing the brain. Although it provides a framework for thinking through ethical issues, the goal of Neuroethics is to provoke researchers to assess the broader ethical implications of their own work, posing questions including:

  • How do we define brain enhancement, and under what conditions can it be ethical and just?
  • What are the obligations of researchers in cases of incidental findings?
  • What are the implications of neuroscience breakthroughs for law, culture, national security, and the notion of individual identity?

Upon completion of this activity, learners will be able to:

  • Outline events of particular ethical importance in the history of neuroscience
  • Assess the ethical impact of neuroscience research both in terms of potential risks to research subjects and in terms of the broader social implications of advances in neurotechnology
  • Identify strategies used by neuroscientists to develop effective ethical guidelines that address issues that involve high-profile public controversy
  • Evaluate philosophical questions that underlie the practice of neuroscience research, including whether the enhancement of healthy brains is ethical or just, and how neuroscience bears on law, culture, and individual identity

Course Details

MICRO: Research Ethics for Social Scientists (Spring 2017 release)

Contact: Medical Ethics Continuing Education

If you have questions, please contact Laura C. Hart, Director of Online Educational Initiatives, at hartl@upenn.edu or 215-746-3971.