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Principles of Medical Law and Ethics


Module description

In this module we introduce you to core issues in medical law and ethics. We will look at the development of medical law as a separate subject of study over the past half century and examine the basis of biomedical ethics, consent and negligence as well as questions of resource allocation and care at the end of life. We will also look at how law interconnects with both criminal and civil law.

Indicative syllabus

  • The scope of medical law and bio-ethics
  • The nature of illness and the structure of the NHS
  • Research and ethics
  • Resource allocation and utilitarian ethics
  • Consent
  • Negligence and Kant’s ethics
  • Epidemics and Foucault’s analysis
  • Terminal care/euthanasia I - the ‘double effect’ issue
  • Terminal care/euthanasia II - the right to live versus the right to die

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand key aspects of medical law and ethics and the significance of contemporary research and debates about the subject
  • be able to read, review, consolidate and assess critically cases, statutes, textbooks, media reports, government and community group websites and scholarly publications in the field of medical law and ethics and apply that knowledge
  • understand how key ethical and legal concepts can be deployed to devise and sustain arguments and/or solve problems in the context of medical law
  • be able to critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution, or a range of solutions to a problem in medical law
  • appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of medical law and of the diversity of moral philosophy.