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MA Healthcare Ethics and Law (Distance Learning)
Study healthcare ethics and law and how the two disciplines interact in a virtual learning environment.

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

Year of entry: 2019

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 Healthcare Ethics and Law aims to bring students 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 field.

Students will gain an expert knowledge and understanding of bioethical and medico-legal theories, and the skills needed to apply them to real world scenarios in a diverse range of contexts.

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 and euthanasia.


  On successful completion of the course, students will have:
  • received the highest standard of training in healthcare ethics and law via a flexible teaching framework;
  • gained expert insight into bioethical and medico-legal theories, as well as the tools needed to apply them to real-world scenarios;
  • attained knowledge across a broad spectrum of ethical and legal subjects in depth.

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 are 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 study day is held each year giving you an opportunity to meet tutors and colleagues face to face on campus. Students studying by distance learning are welcome to attend the regular research seminars that take place on campus during term time.

Coursework and assessment

At the end of each of the course units for our distance learning courses, you are required to submit an essay of 4,000 words (for course units to the value of 15 credits) or 6,000 words (for course units to the value of 30 credits). In addition, MA students 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 two. Please note that you can also extend your registration for extra 3 months to submit a dissertation in December of your second year, instead of September (you will be advised of the exact date on the second year of the course).

Those students who do not achieve success in the MA may be considered for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma. The award of the MA is classified according to Pass/Merit/Distinction.

Course unit details

Students 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 students 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 for the distance learning course are:

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

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

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

Scholarships and bursaries

The School is offering a number of awards for students applying for masters study. To find out more please visit our  Master's funding opportunity search page .


University of Manchester School of Law students are supported by the first-class resources one expects of a top law school. In addition to the networked study spaces at the Williamson Building, students 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: