MA Healthcare Ethics and Law (Distance Learning) / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Katy Wilson

"I love the flexibility of the online course. It means you can fit it in around work and family commitments. I love working through the course material and the tutors are really helpful and supportive if you get stuck."

"Having come from a science background it is a completely different type of studying to what I have been used to, but the material is set out to take into account the fact that some students will not have a philosophy or legal background."

Katy Wilson / Healthcare Ethics and Law MA student
The MA in Healthcare Ethics and Law aims to bring you the highest quality of training in healthcare ethics and healthcare law in a flexible and interdisciplinary way, thus catering to the practical needs of healthcare and legal professionals and those in related fields.

You will study a wide variety of ethical and legal subjects, including:

  • autonomy;
  • consent;
  • refusal of treatment;
  • confidentiality';
  • the moral status of the foetus;
  • resource allocation;
  • genetic testing;
  • HIV testing;
  • medical malpractice;
  • clinical negligence;
  • organ and tissue transplantation;
  • fertility treatment;
  • genetic manipulation;
  • research ethics;
  • stem cell research;
  • euthanasia.

As well as studying these topics from a UK perspective, many are also considered from a global perspective.

You will study the three core subjects of Philosophical Bioethics, Medico-Legal Problems and International Issues in Healthcare. You will then select two optional course units and complete a dissertation.


  • Offer you the opportunity to gain a comprehensive knowledge and firm understanding of healthcare ethics and law.
  • Provide you with the opportunity to gain the skills needed to apply your understanding to real world scenarios, in a diverse range of contexts. Develop the skills needed for research and academic writing.

Special features

Flexible, online course structure with the ongoing support of dedicated tutors to allow students to study alongside work and other commitments.

Teaching and learning

You will be provided with a comprehensive set of course materials at the beginning of each course unit. These interactive, specially designed materials provide an introduction to the issues and skills central to each unit and direct you to other study components such as further reading.

Each unit is supported by a virtual learning environment where you can access all course materials, online reading lists, podcasts, and the University's online library. You are encouraged to use the VLE to discuss issues raised in the course materials with your course tutor and fellow students. Tutors are also available to provide one to one support by telephone, skype, e-mail and face to face meetings. You will have access to a wide range of online resources to support your learning via the library website.

An optional induction day takes place each September for those starting the course. In addition, an optional study day is held each year, giving you an opportunity to meet tutors and colleagues face to face on campus. You are also welcome to attend the regular research seminars that take place on campus during term time.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment of all taught course units (to a total of 120 credits) is by assessed coursework in the form of essays of 4,000 words per 15 credit course unit and up to 6,000 words for the three 30 credit core course units.

In addition, you must submit a supervised 12,000 to 15,000 word dissertation by independent research (60 credits). As a part-time student, you will undertake a dissertation in the summer months of Year 2.

If you do not achieve success in the MA, you may be considered for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma. The award of the MA is classified according to pass, merit or distinction.

Course unit details

You will be required to complete 180 credits: 120 credits comprised of taught course units (each of 15 or 30 credits value) and the independent research element (dissertation) worth 60 credits. On the distance learning course, you complete 60 credits of taught course units in the first year and 60 credits in the second year, together with a dissertation of between 12,000 - 15,000 words, which is undertaken over the summer months in Year 2.

The core course units are:

  • Philosophical Bioethics (30 credits)
  • Medico-Legal Problems (30 credits)
  • International Issues in Healthcare Ethics and Law (30 credits)

You must choose optional course units to a total value of 30 credits from the following list:

Law-based: Medicine, Law and Society (15 credits); Mental Health Law and Policy (15 credits)

Ethics-based: Research Ethics (15 credits); Ethics Genetics and Genomics (15 credits)

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Philosophical Bioethics (Distance-Learning) CSEP60103 30 Mandatory
Medico-Legal Problems (Distance Learning) CSEP60113 30 Mandatory
International Issues in Health Care Law and Ethics (Distance Learning) CSEP60293 30 Mandatory
Research Ethics CSEP60033 15 Optional
Ethics, Genetics and Genomics CSEP60043 15 Optional
Mental Health Law and Policy CSEP60243 15 Optional
Medicine, Law & Society CSEP60253 15 Optional


At The University of Manchester Law School, you are supported by the first-class resources you would expect of a top law school. In addition to the networked study spaces at the Williamson Building, you can access The University of Manchester Library, which houses a substantial collection of law books and periodicals, as well as texts to support all the degrees we offer.

As a distance-learner you will have full access to the virtual learning environment where you can access all course materials, online reading lists, podcasts, and the University's online library, as well as communicate with your classmates and tutors.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: