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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Law and Medical Ethics: Start and End of Life Issues (LAWS11259)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe function of the course is to discuss the relationship between the law and the practice of medicine in relation to unique issues arising at the start and end of life. As with the 'fundamentals' course, moral and ethical principles will be emphasized in relation to the legal and medical questions considered.
Reproduction and related technological developments such as genetics research, have featured in many high publicity debates of late. At the end of life, attitudes to death are changing while, at the same time, there have been very significant advances in resuscitation techniques and in the medical capacity to influence the natural process of dying; as a result, the subject of euthanasia now stands very high on the medico-legal agenda. Several controversial areas will be covered, particular importance being laid on current concepts of life, the moral status of the embryo and foetus and medical futility.
Course description Session 1: Contraception, sterilisation and termination of pregnancy
Session 2: Civil and criminal liability in reproductive medicine
Session 3: Assisted reproduction
Session 4: Research & experimentation
Session 5: Diagnosis of death
Session 6: Transplantation
Session 7: Bodies as property
Session 8: Medical futility
Session 9: Euthanasia & assisted suicide
Session 10: Healthcare resources & care of the aged
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Please contact the distance learning team at
Additional Costs Students should have regular and reliable access to the Internet.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One essay of up to 4,000 words (60%); one individual assignment (20%); contribution to weekly online discussions throughout the semester (20%).

Requirements for all module assessments will be outlined to students within the individual modules at the start of each semester.
Feedback Students can expect to receive timely feedback on their assessments.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. appreciate the wide range of legal and ethical conflicts that arise in the practice of modern medicine and which are uniquely associated with the start and end of life
  2. constructively criticise definitions and the application of terms like 'mother', 'father' and 'parenthood' that have been embedded in the law
  3. decide questions and present views on issues like the moral status and level of protection to be afforded the human fetus, embryos, and people of reduced intellectual capacity and whether they are adequately protected by the current legal framework, here and elsewhere
  4. contextualise current issues in terms of their historic development, the plurality of legitimate social, cultural and religious approaches, and the need to react to, and anticipate rapid changes in, medical science and technology
  5. constructively consider the role of law in all of these areas, as well as considering alternatives, including those followed in other jurisdictions.
Reading List
JK Mason and GT Laurie, Mason and McCall-Smith's Law and Medical Ethics, 9th Edition, Oxford University Press, 2013.

A list of key module readings will be available in advance of the module. Detailed reading lists are then available each week.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop their skills and abilities in:

1. Research and enquiry, through e.g. selecting and deploying appropriate research techniques;
2. Personal and intellectual autonomy, e.g. developing the ability to independently assess the relevance and importance of primary and secondary sources;
3. Communication, e.g. skills in summarising and communicating information and ideas effectively in written form;
4. Personal effectiveness, e.g. working constructively as a member of an online community;
5. Students will also develop their technical/practical skills, throughout the module, e.g. in articulating, evidencing and sustaining a line of argument, and engaging in a convincing critique of another's arguments.
Special Arrangements This course is taught by distance learning.
Additional Class Delivery Information This course is taught by distance learning.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Graeme Laurie
Tel: (0131 6)50 2020
Course secretaryMs Clare Polson
Tel: (0131 6)51 9704
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