PhD Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence / Programme details

Year of entry: 2023

Programme description

National, regional, and local governments, organisations, and authorities are beginning to realise that they need highly trained people in healthcare ethics and law. This means now is a good time to aim for the highest academic qualifications in the field.  

Traditional graduate studies for a research degree do not offer the ethical and legal knowledge or the comprehensive training needed for cutting-edge research into bioethics and medical jurisprudence. A more structured approach is called for. 

This programme is designed to provide a solid skills basis for independent research, and to guide you steadily towards the completion of a structured doctoral thesis, which is based on publishable journal articles and book chapters. The programme itself is unique in its combination of group sessions in research methods and presentation events which are designed to ensure a genuine sense of community among researchers, and friendly but consistent supervision by world-class scholars in the field. 

The topics and themes which are covered during the group sessions in Year 1 address the diverse challenges of doctoral research in health law and ethics, for example: 

  • refining your research question;
  • scoping the literature; 
  • doing interdisciplinary research; 
  • exploring methodologies in bioethics and law; 
  • getting published. 

Our entire community of doctoral scholar's meet four times during the year to present their ideas and research papers. We encourage staff and PGRs at all stages of their learning to attend our BMJ presentation events so that doctoral scholars can become accustomed to presenting their research to a diverse audience. Our doctoral scholars are a vital element in the research culture of our centre and our School.


The PhD in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence is a structured research programme containing taught elements designed to provide a solid skills basis for independent research in this area.

Special features

As a PGR here, you’ll be a member of the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, one of the leading bioethics and medical jurisprudence institutes in the world. The Centre has three decades of experience in campus-based and distance-learning programmes, and a lively and productive research environment.

Coursework and assessment

Study success will be assessed by the structured doctoral thesis.

All the taught elements serve the preparation of the doctoral thesis, which develops knowledge of bioethics and medical jurisprudence methods and approaches. The development of your research skills are monitored and supported by supervisors. Although the outputs for the doctoral thesis are somewhat different to the conventional PhD, the report and the articles that make up the thesis are assessed according to the general rules in the University.

You will have a supervisory team which normally consists of two supervisors with expertise in both philosophical bioethics and medical jurisprudence that you will meet regularly.

Programme unit details

The first year consists of a series of research methods workshops, attendance at presentation events and monthly supervision meetings with two supervisors. Year 1 concludes with the production of a report, which outlines the contextual legal and philosophical issues that underpin your research questions and a draft outline of your first research paper.  

Years 2 and 3 continue with supervision meetings and attendance at presentation events. Work produced during this time is devoted to research which leads to at least three publishable journal articles or book chapters and a structured doctoral thesis. The progress of the research will be closely monitored in research methods sessions, presentations, and supervisory meetings. The results of the research will be presented in research seminars and national and international conferences and meetings. To this end, our scholars are provided with a generous financial allowance to enable attendance and presentation at external events. 

If you have any questions about the PhD in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence please contact our  Recruitment and Admissions team.


At The University of Manchester Law department, School of Social Sciences, 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.

Disability support

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