Law and Medical Ethics - LAWS5190

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Combined Autumn and Spring Terms 6 30 (15) Pamela White checkmark-circle


This module considers the legal regulation of medical practice in its ethical, socio-economic and historical context, drawing on a range of critical, contextual and interdisciplinary perspectives. Students will be introduced to fundamental principles of medical ethics and the law, before moving on to discuss the wider aspects of ethical theory within selected topics. We concentrate on issues at the beginning of life (including abortion, surrogacy, assisted conception, genetics and embryo research) and at its end (euthanasia, futility and withdrawal of treatment), as well as body ownership, transplantation and organ donation.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 39
Private study hours: 261
Total study hours: 300


Available to stage 3 students on all single and joint honours law courses.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Pattern A (100% coursework)
Coursework - short essays / briefing notes (1250 words) – 20% each) - 60% in total
Coursework - Essay (2500 words) - 40%

Pattern B (20% coursework, 80% project / dissertation)
Coursework - draft dissertation chapter (1000 words) -20%
Coursework - Dissertation (7,000 words) - 80%

* Students must achieve a mark of 40% in the dissertation to pass the module overall.

Unless permission has been granted for assessment through dissertation, students will be assessed by coursework. Permission will only be granted for assessment through dissertation if a student meets the Law School requirements for this method of assessment (published in the module catalogue entry for this module), and has satisfied the module convenor that the proposed dissertation is a viable project.

Reassessment methods

Like-for-like: where undertaken, students must achieve a mark of 40% the dissertation to pass the module on reassessment.
Pattern A- A referral instrument of an essay – 4000 words
Pattern B- A referral instrument of a revised dissertation – words

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.
T. Beauchamp and L. Walters, 'Ethical Theory in Bioethics in Contemporary Issues in Bioethics' (1994)
E. Jackson, 'Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials' (2022)
J. Herring, 'Medical Law and Ethics' (2022)
G. T. Laurie, S. H. E. Harman and G. Porter, 'Mason & McCall-Smith's Law and Medical Ethics' (2020)
Blackstone's Statutes on Medical Law (2017)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module, students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of a range of factual circumstances governed by medical ethics and the law.
2. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the concepts, principles, policies and rules applicable in such circumstances.
3. Situate the regulation of medical practice within its ethical, socio-economic and historical contexts.
4. Critically analyse the regulation of medical practice from a diverse range of perspectives (including historical, political, scientific and religious).
5. Critically evaluate the ethical, ideological and policy underpinnings of this area of the law.
6. Critically evaluate the efficacy of the regulation of medical practice (including its social, legal and economic consequences).

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module, students will be able to:
1. Conduct complex research, and make appropriate use of both primary and secondary legal and non-legal sources.
2. Present relevant knowledge and understanding, including in the form of a reasoned argument.
3. Identify and evaluate ethical problems, and apply ethical perspectives, in the context of non-legal situations.
4. Use the English language with care, accuracy and effectiveness.
5. Properly present material with correct citation and use of references.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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