MSc Healthcare Ethics and Law (Intercalated) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Children, Medicine and the Law

Unit code CSEP60972
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
Offered by Law
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course unit focuses on the increasing range of cases involving children and medical treatment to come before the courts and examines the legal, social and ethical implications of the decisions. The unit begins with a general introduction before moving to two lectures on the foetus. These lectures examine the status of the unborn child, discussing abortion and foetal research. 
This is followed by a session on treatment decisions and intensive care of neonates, which considers parents who refuse life-saving treatment, as well as religious and cultural imperatives behind parental refusal.
The unit concludes with two sessions that address the particular issues of adolescence - when a young person can consent to or refuse treatment and specific dilemmas surrounding mental disorder and adolescents. This is followed by a session on children at risk of physical abuse and the provisions in place to safeguard children at risk.

Each lecture will be accompanied by an extensive handout and specific reading list.

The lectures are primarily discussion-based involving both 'lecture' - style teaching aswell  as a fully interactive 'seminar' - style debate. Two of the seminars  will involve student - led presentations and tutor -feeedback.

Students are encouraged to put their own range of professional experience and/or ideas before the class for discussion. The style remains relatively informal and the discussions wide-ranging and interesting. Students have reported particularly enjoying the course unit in past years.


- To introduce students to case law and statutes relevant to the foetus, young children and adolescents and their medical treatment, including the legal relationship between parents and children;

- To explore the social, religious, cultural and legal impact of medical decisions relating to the foetus, young children and adolescents;

- To consider and discuss the ethical context within which parents and the courts make decisions about the medical treatment of children and adolescents;

- To explore ethical debates surrounding the foetus;

- To consider the specific legal dilemmas surrounding children within the context of medical law generally.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will have demonstrated:

- an ability to use legal cases, statutes and other resource material to support written argument and analysis;

- an ability to understand the relationship between the law and medical practice pertaining to children;

- an ability to analyse medico-legal dilemmas pertaining to children in light of ethical constructs;

- a knowledge of a range of case law and statutes;

- a knowledge of ethical issues in relation to the foetus, children and adolescents;

- a knowledge of relevant legal concepts and principles.

Teaching and learning methods

Seminar Workshops: 16 hours (8 x 2 hours on a weekly basis), plus 8 hours of module-specific office hours. 

There will aslo be a 2 hour class contact  which will be a drop-in session at the end of the module.

Assessment methods

One assessed essay of 4,000 words.

Feedback methods

Formative feedback within this course unit is made available through an optional non-assessed essay. Oral feedback is also provided during seminar workshops, and in one to one support via the unit specific office hours. 
Feedback on assessed written work is provided through a comprehensive feedback form giving both broad indications and detailed comments on strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

Recommended reading

The general reading list will be given out at the beginning of the unit and materials specific to the topics to be discussed given out in the preceding week.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Caroline Hoyle Unit coordinator

Additional notes

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

See CSEP timetable


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