Individual and population health is a matter of growing social concern. Achieving good health and delivering effective healthcare demands innovation. A variety of fields have a role to play, including law.
As a student on this programme, you will examine topics that reflect some of the main contemporary legal and ethical challenges faced by those working in medicine, and place them in their social and historical context. These include issues that arise in the context of genetics, assisted reproduction, abortion, standards of medical treatment, transplantation medicine, mental health, advance decisions, assisted suicide, medical research, and the allocation of scarce resources.
We offer you the opportunity to study the fundamentals of medical law and ethics, both international and domestic, at an advanced level, and the opportunity to take more specialized courses on issues of contemporary significance, encouraging and supporting the development of research skills necessary for a career in medical law or ethics.
The legal and ethical experts who deliver this programme come from a wide range of disciplines from across the University, and they benefit from a close association with the J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences, and Law.
You must complete 180 credits of study – 60 credits are taken in the compulsory dissertation and the remaining 120 credits are taken in taught courses.
You will experience a range of teaching styles on these courses, led by members of Edinburgh Law School's academic community and experienced legal and industry practitioners.
You are expected to prepare in advance by reading the required materials and by reflecting on the issues to be discussed, and your participation in classes will be assessed.
For the dissertation, you will have a supervisor from whom you can expect guidance and support, but the purpose of the dissertation is to allow you to independently design and conduct a piece of research and analysis.
Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances or lack of demand for particular courses, we may not be able to run all courses as advertised come the start of the academic year.
By the end of the programme, you will be able to:
- identify areas of law relevant to contemporary issues in the broad healthcare setting
- identify gaps, inconsistencies, or instances of inappropriate or over-regulation in healthcare and nascent fields
- build on your understanding of key values in medical law and ethics, such as autonomy, solidarity, justice, reciprocity
- build on your understanding of key mechanisms in medical law and ethics, such as consent, confidentiality, human rights, etc
- appreciate the international dimensions of medicine and its regulation, including the growing importance of European regulation and international agreements
- appreciate the limits of law in discerning appropriate social responses to new medical and technical advances
- develop critical thinking informed by legal, ethical, and social science analysis, and apply that thinking to comment upon the law’s role and appropriate responses to contemporary issues
- experience the benefits of undertaking study in different learning environments (both on-campus and online)
You will engage with different learning environments and modes of class participation and will draw upon and develop a range of skills. The programme will foster imaginative ways of unpacking and responding to contemporary issues in ways that do not necessarily follow or merely apply existing paradigms or legal constructs.
You will demonstrate a sound grasp of the foundational elements of medical law and ethics, including the role of the law and its various mechanisms (eg: consent, confidentiality, reasonableness, negligence) and the cross-cutting human rights dimensions.
You will develop critical thinking informed by ethical analysis, and apply that thinking to comment on and critique the law’s role in regulating medicine, healthcare services, research, and nascent fields.
Other skills you will develop include:
- general intellectual skills, such as independent critical analysis, interdisciplinary understandings of common problems, problem-solving through reasoned and well-justified ethical and legal discourse, synthesis of complex information and ability to subject to informed critique
- personal skills, such as written and oral skills, group working and interaction skills, intellectual development through interdisciplinary engagement and blended learning environment
- study-derived personal virtues, such as autonomy, critical self-reflection, consideration of others and academic integrity
A UK 2:1 honors degree, or its international equivalent, in law, politics, medicine, medical humanities or life sciences.
English language requirements
All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:
- an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration
- IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
- TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)
- PTE(A): total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
- CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
- Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components
Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.
This programme can lead to a range of employment opportunities and specialised academic work, including: specialised training for solicitor or advocate work with an emphasis on health-related issues; professional care providers; ethics review panel members; health policy and/or patient advocates (such as NGOs); or health policy designers (such as governmental legal advisers, consultants, etc).
Program taught in: