Applied Dual-Use Biosecurity Education: Online Distance Learning Module 30 Masters Level Credits

UCAS codes:


Start Date September 2013
End Date December 2013

Dual-Use Biosecurity image (jpeg, 140kb) This new online module in Applied Dual-Use Biosecurity Education has been established in recognition of the potential that exists for producing research in life sciences for peaceful purposes that are well-intended for public benefit but which could be misused and directed for purposes such as biowarfare and bioterrorism. Consequently, this has given rise to what is now widely known as the 'dual-use dilemma' and the growing debate about the dual-use nature of life sciences research with implications for biological weapons making. Historically, this dual-use potential has been underappreciated by the life sciences and wider communities. However, recent terrorism events have heightened awareness and concern for this issue. Subsequently, there have been a range of international calls to promote education and awareness-raising among life scientists on the dual-use aspects of scientists research, and consequently among peace and conflict resolution specialists.

This is a train-the-trainer course targeted at improving biosecurity and dual-use awareness and education. The course aims to:

  • Develop awareness and understanding of a range of dual-use conundrums and dilemmas that arise due to the impact of science and technology on society;
  • Develop awareness and understanding of the ethical, legal and social relevance of dual-use biosecurity;
  • Develop knowledge of approaches to the responsible conduct of research and other work and be able to provide justification for decisions or recommendations regarding dual-use technologies;
  • Facilitate further research into ‘dual-use' biosecurity issues and develop policies and practices that will enhance responsible conduct of research and other work to prevent the misuse of knowledge generated by life and associated sciences.
  • Develop competency and capacity in training others in responsible conduct of research and other work of relevance to dual-use biosecurity.

You will be introduced to scenarios where the results of well-intentioned scientific research can be used for both good and harmful purposes give rise to give rise to the `dual use dilemma`.

In this sense the course has an applied, practical dimension in that its aim is to enable and facilitate more bioethical research into `dual-use' issues, and facilitate best practice that will prevent the misuse of knowledge generated through biomedical research.

You are encouraged to bring their own personal ideas and experiences to the course, sharing these with your fellow participants in order to contextualise your knowledge and understanding in ways that will help you meet the challenges of conducting responsible research of relevance to dual-use biosecurity.

Why Study Applied Dual-Use Biosecurity Education?

The need to address the security implications of scientific research through education about dual-use has gathered momentum in the 21st Century. Notably, this area has witnessed the following developments:

  • Publication of Scientific Research Findings: In 2003 scientific journal editors issued a joint statement on the importance of biodefence and biosecurity considerations. [Nature 421: 771 (20 February 2003)].
  • Policy for Science in US Higher Education: The need for mandatory biosecurity education for all federally funded US education institutions has been stated by the NSABB, Strategic Plan for Outreach and Education on Dual-Use Research Issues (DHHS, Bethesda, MD, 2008).
  • Security Policies: Dual-use education to all life scientists was recommended by the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, World at Risk in 2008.
  • Funders of Scientific Research: In the UK scientists are asked by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust to consider the dual-use implications of their work.
  • States Parties to the BTWC: With regard to the possible misuse of biological science research, in 2008 States Parties noted that, "formal requirements for seminars, modules or courses, including possible mandatory components, in relevant scientific and engineering training programmes and continuing professional development education could assist in raising awareness and in implementing the Convention". 

Why Study Online?

By studying online you get to:online_screen_image

  • Gain 30 UK Higher Education Master-Level Credits without leaving your own workplace / home.
  • Demonstrate your ability to study at Masters-Level.
  • Fulfil requirements to undertake Masters-Level Continuing Professional Development.
  • Avoid difficulties of travelling and living abroad, and complicated visa arrangements, and,
  • Reduce your carbon footprint 
Entrance Requirements
  • A first degree, usually Upper Second Class (2:1) Honours or equivalent
  • 6.0 IELTS or equivalent
  • No previous knowledge of biosecurity or bioethics is required.

This module is fully moderated and accredited by the University of Bradford with successful candidates being awarded 30 UK Higher Education Masters Level Credits on completion of the module.

Course Duration 12 Weeks
Places Available 20
Tuition Fees

Course Details


A: Thematic Areas Addressed:

    A./ Key concepts in the discourse on dual-use biosecurity and bioethics, and the use of concepts in responsible conduct of research in resolving conundrums and dilemmas.

    B./ Discussion and exercises associated with the processes underlying arriving at an understanding of approaches and deliberations which help in the decision making process.

    C./ Relevant dual-use biosecurity and bioethics topics/scenarios drawn from human, animal and plant science:


      B: Online lectures include:

      1. Introduction and Overview
      2. The Dual-Use Dilemma, ethics and the Responsibility of Scientists
      3. National Implementation of the BTWC
      4. Biowar, Bioterror and the International Prohibition Regime
      5. The Web of Prevention


      C: Expert-Level Group Work Seminars

      These will be derived from expert-level scenarios that address a broad range of biosecurity issues of concern including: publishing, funding, export controls and whistle blowing.

      Learning Outcome

      On completion of the module in Applied Dual-Use Biosecurity Education you will be able to:

      • Critically evaluate and analyse the ethical and social responsibilities of life and associated scientists with reference to the responsible conduct of research and other work.
      • Critically evaluate and analyse the legal responsibilities of life and associated scientists with reference to international legal prohibitions and national laws and guidelines.
      • Organise and synthesise ideas and questions relevant to responsible conduct of research and other work in specific dual-use issues affecting humans, animals and plants.
      • Contribute to the development and implementation of relevant country-specific and institutional mechanisms, guidelines, regulations and legislation.
      • Integrate responsible conduct of life and associated science research and other work relating to dual-use biosecurity issues and concerns into your training.
      • Evaluate and integrate data from a variety of sources and express these ideas clearly both verbally and in writing
      • Communicate effectively in an online environment with your colleagues and students using a range of media
      • Collaborate effectively with colleagues on group tasks and assessments
      • Support the learning of colleagues through peer reviews and assessments
      • Make effective use of communication and information technologies

      Teaching Strategy

      This module is taught online. Subject to availability, the module utilises an online distance learning virtual learning platform which offers vitual online face-to-face contact (video and/or audio) lectures and seminars with the course lecturers. You will participate in lectures, seminars, and discussion groups which all take place on-line. As well as participation in a vibrant academic (social-network) web-group where interaction on course-work-related topics between tutors, moderators and students takes places, you will be expected to undertake independent reading and research. The module is delivered using a range of online distance learning technologies and platforms and includes:

      1. Twelve 1.5 hour online lectures  together with supporting material for trainers including instruction guides, citation and reference information, and sample questions.

      2. Twelve 1.5 hour online distance-learning expert-level biosecurity seminar scenarios designed to facilitate ethically-informed exploration, examination, and analysis of real-world dual-use bioethical dilemmas. The scenarios are specifically designed to facilitate learning by collaborative online groupwork.

      Assessment Strategy

      You will benefit from a supportive and interactive on-line web-based learning community. You will work both independently to produce a course work assignment and in online groups to produce a significant group work course assignment. There will also be plenty of support provided for the required course work and group work assignments.


      Study Hours: 

      Online Lectures: 18 hours                               

      Online Seminars/Tutorials: 18 hours   

      Directed Study: 152 hours                         

      Online discussion / group-work: 12 hours

      Total:  200 study hours

      Note: Efforts will be made to time our lecture and seminar broadcasts appropriately in accordance with the coordinates and geographical location of our audience. Further information about broadcast timings will be made available to course participants.


      Assessement Type: 

      1. Coursework: 50%

           This will entail one reflective applied written individual assignment:  3,500 - 4,000 words.


       2. Groupwork Report: 50%

           This will entail one online group-work presentation (25%) and one related written group-work assignment (25%) of 2,000 words


        Supplementary Assessment details will be made available to participants as appropriate.

      How to Apply

      Apply From

      We accept applications for entry onto the programme throughout the year.

      Apply Until

      There is no formal closing date for applications.

      Apply to

      Contact Dr. Simon Whitby



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      Support and Study

      The following resource will be provided for students

      Module Handbook

      Students are expected to provide the following

      Those who wish to participate in this module must have computer access to the internet.* An ISDN connection is preferable. (Those with dial-up connections may experience difficulty engaging with Module Resources such as Video and Audio transmissions.)

      Students are expected to provide their own:

      • Webcam and
      • Headset with microphone

      Elluminate Requirements

      *The course is supported by the University of Bradford's Virtual Learning Environment where course material is located and distributed, and assignments are submitted. Related online networking e-platforms are utilised for communication with the course moderators and for communication amongst participants who will be required to conduct online groupwork. The University of Bradford cannot take responsibility for unforeseen network and/or computer disruptions, interuptions or failure. Local computer hardware and software and network problems and failures are entirely the responsiblity of course participants.


      Contact Hours

      8am to 4pm GMT Monday to Friday

      Contact Pattern


      Director: Dr Simon Whitby


      Tel: +44 (0)1274 23 4187




      Study Hours

      3 Hours Per Week: 1.5 hours  lectures and 1.5 hours seminars.

      Participants will conduct a further 12 hours of online groupwork over the course of 12 weeks.

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