LLB Law with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Mental Health Law

Course unit fact file
Unit code LAWS30471
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


1. Theories of mental disorder

What is a "mental disorder"? Anorexia? Personality disorder? Paedophilia? Learning disability?

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Psychiatry, power and social control: examining the impact of psychiatry and mental health law on race and culture


2.  Compulsory Civil Commitment

The history of civil commitment legislation

What should be the goals of civil commitment: risk avoidance? justice? promotion of future autonomy?

Compulsory detention under the Mental Health Act 1983: what is involved when someone is "sectioned"?

The role of health and social care professionals


3.  Compulsory Criminal Commitment ? Mad or bad? Or both?

When is someone with mental disorder not responsible for their crime? Diversion from the criminal justice system


4.  Treating those lacking mental capacity

How to determine whether someone is unable to make a decisio What is in their best interests?

How to plan ahead for incapacity

Protection from liability


5. Treating Mental Disorder under the Mental Health Act 1983

Should the law allow doctors to forcibly treat, restrain, seclude and sedate detained patients?

Hazardous and irreversible treatments

Impact on human rights considerations


6. Detention under the Mental Capacity Act 2005

The (not so?) great confinement after Cheshire West

The compliant, incapacitated patient

The liberty protection safeguards


7.  Community-based Supervision and Control

Choice and coercion in community settings

Leave of absence and the 'long leash'

Community treatment orders



8.  Access to Justice

The role of the Mental Health Review Tribunal

The role of the Court of Protection

Judicial review and habeas corpus


To introduce students to a range of philosophies and ideologies that underpin mental health legislation, past and present.

To facilitate students' understanding of law and policy on mental health issues in England and Wales.

To encourage students to develop textual research skills.

To encourage students to work collaboratively with fellow peers.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

Understand the scope and application of English mental health law and its relevance to a range of academic disciplines and emerging policy initiatives.

Examine the effectiveness of mental health law by reference to principles/philosophies from relevant disciplines (psychiatry, psychology, ethics, criminology, social policy).

Articulate your knowledge in written and oral form.

Make effective use of a range of paper and electronic legal research tools to support your learning and research.


Teaching and learning methods

30 hours of lectures, five hours of (fortnightly) seminars and 10 hours of (weekly) direction and feedback drop in sessions. Students will undertake a series of exercises in both lectures and seminars that will build on their knowledge of mental health and develop their general intellectual skills. In particular, we are keen to support students to develop their problem solving, communication, leadership and group-working skills.

We will use a range of teaching strategies to make this possible, building our analysis and discussion of mental health law around a series of scenarios. Students will be encouraged to work on these in the course of seminars, lectures and via Blackboard, where discussion threads and 'blogs' will also be available. We will encourage students to act as researchers, gathering new information on mental health law. We also support the use of video resources, many of which are currently available on Blackboard and some of which will be aired in the lectures.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

This course is assessed by one examination, and one piece of coursework.

Recommended reading

A free electronic book will be made available. In addition, we recommend Brenda Hale's 'Mental Health Law'.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Neil Allen Unit coordinator
Kirsty Keywood Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This course is available to students in the University of Manchester, provided they have some knowledge of law. For further details please contact kirsty.keywood@manchester. ac.uk

Pre-requisites: Students who are not registered on the LLB programmes must have some prior legal education that includes the English legal system, the Human Rights Act and judicial review.


See Law School undergraduate timetable page

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