Ethics in the Professions

DePaul University School for Continuing and Professional Studies
1 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604

Course Description

Ethics in the Professions prepares students to examine the moral dilemmas arising within their professional life and experience, and to craft philosophically justifiable ethical decisions in response. Both theory and practice are valued in this learning experience. We read classic and contemporary theorists, analyze professional case studies, evaluate relevant scholarship, and plan for ethical decision-making on the intertwined levels of personal and professional existence.

Designed as an “extra credit” supplement to Module 2, special focus is trained on the Vincentian ethical heritage of DePaul University and its founders.

Learning Outcomes, Competences, and/or Objectives

In general, as an overarching set of skills, after completing this course, you will be able to:

These are the learning outcomes that span all three modules in the course:

  1. If you are an Individualized Focus Area student, you will develop the following competency:


    Competence Statement and Criteria


    Can analyze a problem using two or more distinct ethical frameworks.

    1. Identifies and describes an ethical issue or problem.
    2. Describes the distinctive assumptions of two or more ethical frameworks.
    3. Analyzes the problem by comparing and contrasting how the different ethical frameworks apply to it.
  2. If you are a Degree Completion Major (DCM) student, you will develop the following knowledge and intellectual skills (i.e. “learning outcomes”):


    Distinguish, and analytically apply, the hallmarks of categorical, consequentialist, and individualist ethics to human action.


    Appreciatively apply the process of reasoning to particular ethical questions in business and the professions.


    Demonstrate understanding of the common distinction between moral and ethical behavior.


    Distinguish between the three main types of decisions involved in ethical thinking and behavior.


    Examine the concept of ethical compromise, and analyze its typical sources and potential outcomes.


    Understand the distinction between forms of moral action and the specific ethical content of professional and business environments.

As you engage each module via the Desire-to-Learn (“D2L”) system (under “Content”), you will find additional and module-specific learning outcomes. These are directly connected to your readings and the assignments for that module. They are not different than the core outcomes above, only more detailed and linked to actual content in the readings and the assignment specifications. For example, in Module 1 we learn about Categorical Ethics, and the specific outcomes are all focused on that area of ethical theory.

Learning Strategies & Resources

Strategies for learning in this course integrate reading, written and oral reflection, and analytical application of principles to moral behavior in the professional sphere.

To buy your books, go to

Learning Deliverables

There are three kinds of graded learning products in this course:

  1. Online Discussions: Each module begins with a required discussion posting and set of replies. Your first discussion posting is due on the Friday of the second week of this five-week course (see, for detail and instructions, the assignments posted under each module within the “Content” tab on D2L). The grade for your posting and replies is a direct reflection of your demonstration of the learning outcomes below, and the ways they are embedded into the reading material. Please see the additional guidance below on creating good and useful postings. Postings or replies made after the due date listed on the discussion assignment instructions found within the “Content” tab for each module will receive zero points though must be completed in order to pass the course.
  2. Case Analyses: Modules 2 & 3 require that you read a number of case studies in one of the course texts. There are study questions in the course text listed directly after the case study, and which are designed to draw-out your understanding of that particular ethical framework and the ways it can be applied to moral dilemmas in the workplace. Case analyses posted to the “Dropbox” after the due date listed on the assignment tab for this assignment in Modules 2 & 3 will not be awarded any points, though must be completed in order to pass the course.
  3. Practice and Policy Essay: In each of the three modules, you will find instructions for writing an essay to demonstrate your grasp of the ethical framework under study, and your ability to apply its principles and major questions to a real-life moral issue arising in the context of professional work. All of the six major learning outcomes are involved in the construction of a top-level essay. Additionally, the module-specific outcomes provide the distinct subject matter for each particular essay. Essays posted to the “Dropbox” after the due date listed on the assignment tab for each module will not be awarded any points, though must be completed to pass the course.

Assessment of Student Learning

To complete the course, you must complete each of the assignments as described in the course and submit them to your instructor by the assigned deadline. In addition, you must participate in the course discussion forum by responding to all instructor requests and by interacting with fellow classmates as necessary.

No points are awarded for late work as tardiness directly affects the existence and quality of one’s participation in the course. The course assignments must be completed regardless. A passing grade cannot be awarded if any assignments are missing.

Percentage Distribution of Assessments

Each assignment is graded using a point range of 0-3:

The point-grades are not weighted. They are assigned on the basis of these basic criteria:

0 = no credit; assignment missing or tardy, incomplete or incoherently written, and/or misaligned with prompt.
1 = partial credit; assignment tardy and/or poorly written, and/or partially misaligned with prompt.
2 = partial credit; assignment demonstrates coherent thinking, at least partial alignment with prompt, and competent though minimal intellectual substance.
3 = full credit; assignment demonstrates coherent and substantial thinking, perfect alignment with prompt, and full intellectual substance.

All writing assignments are expected to conform to basic college-level standards of mechanics and presentation.

Consider visiting the Writing Center to discuss your assignments for this course or any others. You may schedule appointments (30 or 50 minutes) on an as–needed or weekly basis, scheduling up to 3 hours-worth of appointments per week. Online services include Feedback–by–Email and IM conferencing (with or without a webcam). All writing center services are free.

Writing Center tutors are specially selected and trained graduate and undergraduate students who can help you at almost any stage of your writing. They will not do your work for you, but they can help you focus and develop your ideas, review your drafts, and polish your writing. They can answer questions about grammar, mechanics, different kinds of writing styles, and documentation formats. They also can answer questions and provide feedback online, through IM/webcam chats and email. Obviously, the tutors won’t necessarily be familiar with every class or subject, but they are able to provide valuable help from the perspective of an interested and careful reader as well as a serious and experienced student-writer.

Schedule your appointments with enough time to think about and use the feedback you’ll receive. To schedule a Face-to-Face, Written Feedback by Email, or Online Appointment, visit

Online Discussion
Assessment Criteria for Online Discussion Participation
In addition to the criteria for the 0-3 point system (above)
, your participation in the required online discussions will be assessed on whether at least one or more of the following are present:

  1. Offering ideas or resources and inviting a critique of them
  2. Asking challenging questions
  3. Articulating, explaining and supporting positions on ideas
  4. Exploring and supporting issues by adding explanations and examples
  5. Reflecting on and re-evaluating personal opinions
  6. Offering a critique, challenging, discussing and expanding ideas of others
  7. Negotiating interpretations, definitions and meanings
  8. Summarizing previous contributions and asking the next question
  9. Proposing actions based on ideas that have been developed

The above list was adapted from Gilly Salmon’s book E-Moderating: The key to teaching and learning online. London: Kogan Page: p.143 (2000).

When you respond to a classmate's post, refrain from simple phrases like, "Great ideas!" or "I like that." Refer to the 9 points above and use words like, "But," "Additionally," "I agree and," "However," "What about," etc.

Grading Criteria & Scale

A+ = 33

A = 30-33

A- = 30

B+ = 29

B = 25-29

B- = 25

C+ = 24

C = 22-24

C- = 22

D = 18-21

F = 18 or below


Please note: Grades lower than a C- do not earn earn credit towards degree completion and graduation in the School for Continuing and Professional Studies. See additional information pertaining to the grade designations, for graduate grades and for undergraduate grades.

Description of Pass/Fail Grading Options
Students have the option of taking all SCPS undergraduate courses as Pass/Fail even if a class is initially structured for a letter grade assessment. In these cases a Pass is awarded when competence is demonstrated at a level that would otherwise earn a grade of C- or higher.

In deciding to select Pass/Fail grading students should be aware that competencies assessed in a course as Pass will earn credit hours toward degree completion but will not be included in computing grade point averages. Attempted competence demonstration assessed within a class as Fail will not only be recorded as credit hours attempted but will also be included in computing a student's grade point average.

For SCPS students, competencies awarded for Independent Learning Pursuits and in the Lifelong Learning Domain do not count toward the university's specification that only twenty credit hours may be earned through the Pass/Fail assessment option.

Please note: There are three SCPS courses within the BA curriculum that are always assessed on a Pass/Fail basis: Foundations of Adult Learning (course number LL 250; competences L-2 and F-1), Advanced Project (course number FA 303; competences F-11 and F-12) and Summit Seminar (course number LL 390; competence L-12). These classes may not be taken for a letter grade assessment. Therefore, work that might otherwise be assessed at grades A through C- will earn a Pass in these classes.

There are an additional five SCPS courses within the Lifelong Learning Area of the BA curriculum for which instructors regularly use a Pass/Fail grading system that may instead be taken for a letter grade assessment if this is a student's preference. These classes are: Independent Learning Seminar (course number LL 103; competence L1); Writing for Competence (course number LL 260; competence L-4), Critical Thinking (course number LL 270; competence L-5), Research Seminar (course number LL 300; competences L-8 and L-9), and Externship (course number LL 302; competences L-10 and L-11). In addition, SCPS's undergraduate Writing Workshop (course number LL 140; competence H-3-J) regularly uses Pass/Fail, although students may request a letter grade assessment. In these instances SCPS offers undergraduate students the opportunity to request a letter grade assessment from their instructor. Students who need a letter grade for tuition reimbursement may wish to consider this option, as well as those who wish to raise their GPA. Students planning to attend graduate school may also prefer letter grades to Pass/Fail assessments.

If a student wants to switch the method of assessment, either to or from the Pass/Fail option, this must be requested from the instructor in writing by the beginning of the third week of the quarter. For courses that meet fewer than ten weeks of the quarter, this request must be made by the beginning of the third week of the course. The grading basis may not be changed after these deadlines, with no exceptions.

Course Schedule

Three core learning modules are spread across five weeks of learning time in this course. Accordingly, students should plan to spend 10-12 days on each module. The reading assignments and the learning activities are progressive, meaning that the later ones build upon the earlier ones; due dates are given to ensure that this “scaffolded” learning develops accordingly. In Module 1, we study the “Categorical” model of ethics, and this perspective is the fundamental basis of the Western ethical tradition. All ethical models which follow are, to some degree, responses to it. A successful demonstration of the learning outcomes for Module 1, then, is a major indicator of your ability to complete the learning in the course.

It is very important to do all of the readings before you start working on the assignments and activities. The learning activities in each module begin with a structured online discussion assignment and move through to a case analysis and, finally, to an essay. In general, you should start the readings on Day 1 of each module, and be ready to engage the assignments by Day 4 or 5.

The readings, assignments, and activities have been specially chosen to address specific learning outcomes so that, by the end of the course, one’s level of applied learning encompasses all of the outcomes. Your instructor’s assessment will take this “global” sense of knowledge and competence into account.

If, due to unforeseeable circumstances, the schedule of readings and activities changes, this information will be communicated by (1) email; (2) the D2L course homepage; and (3) an updated syllabus.




Week 1,
Module 1:
Categorical Ethics

Ethics for the Real World

  1. Introduction: p. 1-10
  2. Chapter 1: p. 11-29

Ethics Across the Professions

  1. Introduction: p. 1-2
  2. Mintzberg: p. 2-8
  3. Ciulla: p. 22-27
  4. Aristotle: p. 54-57
  5. Plato: p. 58-60
  6. Kant: p. 69-76
  7. Harris: p.77-81

1.1 Categorical Ethics Discussion
1.2 ERW Study Questions
1.3 Analyzing Practice and Policy Essay

Week 2,
Module 2:
Consequentialist Ethics

Ethics for the Real World

  1. Chapter 2: p. 31-49

Ethics Across the Professions

  1. Solomon: p. 162-165
  2. Ekman & Frank: p. 175-181
  3. Bok: p. 181-192
  4. Leiser: p. 213-221

Responsibility & Business Ethics

Week 3,
Module 3:
Individualist Ethics

Ethics for the Real World

  1. Chapter 3: p. 51-69
  2. Chapter 4: p. 71-89
  3. Chapter 5: p. 91-112

Ethics Across the Professions

  1. Bok: p. 284-288
  2. Davis: p. 289-294
  3. Duska: p. 294-298
  4. Nagel: p. 311-316

3.1 Individualist Ethics Discussion
3.2 ERW Study Questions
3.3 Case Analysis
3.4 Analyzing Practice and Policy Essay

Course Policies

Discussion Forums
Discussion Forums are an important component of your online experience. This course contains discussion forums related to the topics you are studying each week. For requirements on your participation in the Discussion Forums, please see "Assessment Criteria for Online Discussion Participation" in the syllabus.

A Course Q & A discussion forum has also been established to manage necessary, ongoing social and administrative activities. This is where the management and administrative tasks of the course are conducted, and where you can ask 'process' questions and receive answers throughout the course. Please feel free to answer any question if you feel you know the answer; this sharing of information is valuable to other students.

Time Management and Attendance
SCPS's online courses are not self-paced and require a regular time commitment EACH week throughout the quarter.

You are required to log in to your course at least four times a week so that you can participate in the ongoing course discussions.

Online courses are no less time consuming than "face to face" courses. You will have to dedicate some time every day or at least every second day to your studies. A typical four credit hour "face to face" course at SCPS involves three hours of classroom meeting per week, plus at least three to six hours of study and homework per week.

This course will require at least the same time commitment, but your learning activities will be spread out through the week. If you have any problems with your technology, or if you need to improve your reading or writing skills, it may take even longer.

The instructor should be notified if your life events do not allow you to participate in the course and the online discussions for more than one week. This is particularly important when there are group discussions or you are working as part of a team.

If you find yourself getting behind, please contact the instructor immediately.

Your Instructor's Role
Your instructor's role in this course is that of a discussion facilitator and learning advisor. It is not their responsibility to make sure you log in regularly and submit your assignments. As instructor, s/he will read all postings to the general discussion forums on a daily basis but may not choose to respond to each posting. You will receive feedback to assignments.

The instructor may choose to designate "office hours" when s/he will be online and available and will immediately respond to questions. Depending on the instructor, this response may be by e-mail, instant messenger or telephone. Otherwise, you will generally receive a response to emailed or posted queries within 48 hours.

Your Role as a Student
As an online student, you will be taking a proactive approach to your learning. As the course instructor's role is that of a learning guide, your role is that of the leader in your own learning.

You will be managing your own time so that you can complete the readings, activities and assignments for the course, and you will also be expected to take a more active role in peer learning.

Please also note that this is a course offered by DePaul University's School for Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), a college for undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students 24 years and older. SCPS welcomes the perspectives and encourages the participation of all DePaul students, and students who take this course should respect and be mindful of SCPS's mission in supporting a diverse and inclusive environment. More information about SCPS can be found here.

View this brief demo Taking SNL Online courses in D2L to learn how to navigate through your course.

If you’re new to SCPS Online see additional resources on the course home page under Student Resources/New to Online?

Course Netiquette
Online discussions are an important part of your course experience. To ensure a positive learning environment, please follow the following minimum expectations. Use your common sense, as not all situations can be covered:

This course includes and adheres to the college and university policies described in the links below:
Academic Integrity Policy (UGRAD)
Academic Integrity Policy (GRAD)
Incomplete Policy
Accommodations Based on the Impact of a Disability
Protection of Human Research Participants
APA citation format (GRAD)

Course Resources

University Center for Writing-based Learning
SNL Writing Guide
Dean of Students Office
Course Withdrawal Timelines and Grade/Fee Consequences

Instructor /Course Author Biographical Sketch

Corinne Benedetto holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago. Her graduate coursework emphasized social and moral philosophy with coursework in the pre-Socratics and Plato, as well as the modern theoretical models of justice in human society. As a DePaul University faculty member, her seven-year commitment to the Institutional Review Board, the primary means of ethical scrutiny for all University research proposals and projects, deepened her active understanding of contemporary applications of moral theory. Her participation in the Vincentian Mission Institute (2013-15) enabled a close and sustained engagement with the philosophical foundation of Vincentian Personalism. Corinne is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Jewish Studies at Spertus Institute, concentrating in part on Biblical and Talmudic Studies in which the Western ideals of social and personal justice have their roots.

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary. If a change occurs, it will be clearly communicated to students.