PGCert Healthcare Law Postgraduate Certificate / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Medicine, Law and Society

Course unit fact file
Unit code CSEP60962
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Medical law is an extremely dynamic area.  Scientfic, clinical and social developments constantly push the boundaries of existing law.  This course aims to engage students with a variety of topical and problematic issues.  We hope to develop your understanding of the interrelationship between law, ethics and policy in a number of areas, examining how socio-political developments impact upon how society and the law responds to medico-ethical dilemmas.  This course seeks to grapple with such issues as organ donation, public health, children and medicine, reproductive technologies, and end-of-life concerns, assessing how the law has responded to the various challenges which have arisen.

Key questions to be addressed in this course include:

(1) to what extent is law innovative or reactive in relation to health-related areas in which there are currently differing ethical and/or political viewpoints?

(2) what should law’s role be, if any, in this regard?


•      To gain an appreciation of topical and problematic medical law issues;

•      To facilitate students’ understanding of the interrelationship between law, ethics and policy in these areas in England and, if applicable, at international level;

•      To develop students’ critical skills with regarding to analysing the rationale(s) for regulation and case law in the chosen topics;

•      To encourage students to develop their research skills.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit students will be able to:

•      Identify the links between health care practice, law and the social context in which health care issues are raised in relation to chosen topics;

•      Apply legal concepts to health care dilemmas, building upon their work in Medico-Legal Problems, the core legal course unit in the LLM/MA/MSc degree programmes;

•      Critically assess the reasons for current policy and its outcomes in relation to chosen topics;

•      Provide oral and written presentations on the above issues.

Teaching and learning methods

The course will be delivered by lecture/workshops.  These sessions will inform students about the current law and debates in the areas covered by the course.  Although termed lectures these sessions will be interactive and will incorporate group work and plenty of opportunity for discussion and debate.

Lectures: 18 hours. 

A significant amount of private study will also be required.


Assessment methods

This course will be assessed by one piece of coursework with a maximum word limit of 4,000 words. 

Recommended reading

The Key textbooks which will be used in this course are:

M. Brazier, E. Cave and R. Heywood, Medicine Patients and the Law, [7th edition] (Manchester University Press, 2023)

Laurie, G.T et al. Mason & McCall Smith’s Law and Medical Ethics (11th ed) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)

The following cases and materials book is another useful resource:

Jackson, E, Medical Law: text, cases and materials (6th ed) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022).

Further detailed reading lists will be given in relation to each lecture



Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Caroline Hoyle Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Formative feedback within this course unit is provided in class presentations and discussion, and via regular weekly office hours.


This is an optional course unit for campus-based Health Care Ethics & Law programmes in The Department of Law.

Return to course details