Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Principles of Law, Medicine and Ethics

Course unit fact file
Unit code LAWS30732
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


To provide within a programme of lectures, workshops and seminars, an analysis of the main legal principles that govern the regulation of health care in England and Wales.

To develop students' understanding of the key ethical principles that underpin health care practice and law in England and Wales.

To develop students' ability to appreciate how key ethical principles are incorporated into legal reasoning in the field of health care law.

To develop students' independent research, team work and communication skills.

Teaching and learning methods

This course will consist of

  • 30 hours of lectures, 5 of which will deal with study skills in the context of the study of medical law;
  • 5 hours of seminars (fortnightly);
  • 10 hours of (weekly) direction and feedback drop in sessions

Lecture sessions will require advance reading to be undertaken by the students as where possible, exercises and discussions will take place during those sessions.

Seminars will adopt a variety of debate, group work and group discussion approaches.

Opportunities to provide feedback are built in to the course regularly.

Lectures will be interactive with discussion threads and blogs on Blackboard.

Seminars will draw on learning from the lecture slots and will provide students with further opportunities to develop their research, critical analysis and debating skills through scenario-based problem-solving and essay type questions.

There will be a high level of integration of learning between lecture slots and seminars. Active learning will take place in both.

In addition, effective use of Blackboard will be made in the form of discussion threads and 'blogs'.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Appreciate and assess medico-legal problems from an ethical perspective as well as from a purely legal perspective
  • Assess the appropriateness and effectiveness of the main case law and bioethics principles
  • Think logically to assess competing arguments, and to solve problems.
  • Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of relevant materials.

Intellectual skills

Argue a case orally and in writing

Practical skills

Organise time and meet deadlines

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Work well within teams

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 40%
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%

Students will sit an online multiple choice questionaire (MCQ) that will cover the whole course. This will be worth 40%. The second assessment will be coursework, with a choice of essays, with a max word limit of 2000 words. This will be worth 60%

Feedback methods

Informal Assessment:

Students will have the opportunity to receive feedback on written work through a non-assessed essay.


Formative feedback will be provided with optional non-assessed coursework and in relation to seminar exercises.

Recommended reading


Mason and Laurie, Law and Medical Ethics (8th ed., Butterworths, 2010) OR M. Brazier & E.Cave, Medicine, Patients and the Law (5th ed., Penguin, 2011)


J. M. Harris, The Value of Life (Routledge, 1985) (a valuable introduction to medical ethics)

Another useful, but expensive, book is Emily Jackson, Medical Law: Texts, Cases and Materials (2nd ed, OUP 2009)

A detailed reading list will be given at the first lecture.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2.3
Lectures 30
Seminars 5
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Alexandra Mullock Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Restricted to LLB (Law) and LLB/BA (Law with Politics).

This course is available to study abroad students providing they have some knowledge of the law.

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