This course is discontinued

INTHE4111 – Medical Research Ethics in Developing Countries

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

This course introduces the norms guiding medical and health care research applied to implementation of research projects in poor and low-income countries. It discusses also controversial questions of maintaining ethical standards and “standard of care”, respect for human rights, justice, exploitation and how to provide safeguards for patients and informants.

The course has been developed in cooperation between The Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo and The National Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics. It received support from the Ethics Programme to develop the teaching modules. Dr Ahmed Bedru Omer from The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was given a scholarship to adapt and finalize the course to the context of developing countries.

The course content is authored by Dr. Ahmed Bedru Omer and Prof. Knut Ruyter, and has been revised in 2012 by Prof. Jan Helge Solbakk.

Learning outcome

Upon completion of this course, the participant would:

  • understand the central events of the development of health research ethics that influenced the ethical standards to protect research participants
  • know the main international guidelines
  • know the ethical principles and be able to interpret and use them in research practice
  • know the responsibility of a researcher when involving human subjects
  • be attentive to how to include vulnerable groups in research
  • be able to discuss ethical concerns when doing research in a developing country
  • understand ways to protect human participants during the implementation of a study
  • know what is needed to gain approval from an ethical review board


Students enrolled at the M.Phil in International Community Health programme will get first priority to the courses. The deadline for register in Studentweb and apply for courses is February 1.

Students enrolled in other Master's degree programmes at the UIO can, on application to, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

External applicants, not already enrolled as a student at UIO, are welcome to apply. Please email if you want admission to this course. You will have to provide the following documentation:

  • A completed Bachelor’s degree or a period of study comparable with a Norwegian Bachelor's degree from a recognised institution. Applicants with foreign education, please refer to the country list
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of C (in Norwegian scale) or equivalent from the specialization in your degree.
  • A language requirement documented by one of the tests/exams below:
    a) Passed examination in English foundation course (140 hours/5 periods per week) in Norwegian upper secondary school with a minimum grade of 4 (or an equivalent grade from a Nordic upper secondary school) or alternatively passed examination in English from second and/or third school year, or
    b) An internationally recognised English language proficiency test.
  • The applicants must have a specialization either within health sciences or social sciences.

Note: all documents must be official certified copies

Read more about admission for international applicants


The course is based on the internet platform called Fronter. It makes it possible to attend the course regardless of domicile, as long as the student has access to internet. Lessons are presented in Fronter, with reading assistance, cases, links, tasks, reference to curriculum and recommendations for further reading.

The course establishes a classroom in Fronter in which there will be required tasks to fulfill during the semester. The course offers supervision of exchange between students as well as of exam preparation.

The course offers seminars for the participants, held at the University of Oslo. The first seminar (2-3 hrs) will introduce the students to necessary skills to use Fronter. The Fronter introduction and the first Introduction day of this course has, however, compulsory attandence. The course will also have a mid-term seminar (full day) on ethical issues related to the students own projects.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


Home exam. The students write an individual essay over the entire semester. Further instructions will be given in class.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


Collaborating course between the Department of Community Medicine and the Centre for Medical Ethics, both at the Institute of Health and Society, Faculty of Medicine

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language