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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Life Sciences, Society and Law (LAWS11355)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course considers the regulation of the life sciences, drawing out two central problems relating to the use of law in this dynamic field. First, it is often difficult for regulators to keep pace with rapid scientific and technological advances. This means that existing legal concepts and regulatory frameworks can soon appear outmoded and inadequate. Second, in an age of moral pluralism, it can be difficult for stakeholders to secure social consensus on how new biotechnologies should be controlled and exploited. As a result, the regulation of biotechnology has often been a site of sharp disagreement. This course examines how these fundamental tensions are mediated within the legal and regulatory structures governing biotechnology and the life sciences at both the national and international levels.
Course description The aims of this course are to:

- Consider the life sciences in their technological, economic, political and social dimensions;
- Explore the ways in which disagreements pertaining to biotechnology and the life sciences are resolved by legislatures, courts and administrative bodies;
- Critically assess various legal interventions in biotechnology and the life sciences.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Appreciate the range of competing considerations and interests at play in the regulation of the life sciences;
- Formulate well-reasoned and coherent arguments relating to 'biolaw'
- Show a solid understanding of current national, regional and international regimes for the control of the life sciences, and where appropriate suggest reforms thereto.

Week 1: Introduction: Regulating the life sciences (Porter)
Week 2: Stem cell research and biobanks (Dr C George)
Week 3: Genetic information (Porter)
Week 4: Genetics and race (Dr A Ganguli Mitra)
Week 5: Enhancing adults and choosing children: Our Post-Human Future (Porter)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. deeply understand how the life sciences are transforming health and healthcare and constructions of identity,
  2. understand how different fields or technologies derived from the life sciences are regulated,
  3. appreciate the limits of the law in controversial topics and emerging technologies.
Reading List
- Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2012), Emerging Biotechnologies: Technology, Choice and the Public Good. Available to download (summary and introduction).
- Sheila Jasanoff 'The Life Sciences and the Rule of Law' (2002) 319(4) Journal of Molecular Biology 891-899 (discusses how high-stakes legal disputes involving biotechnological products and processes have been resolved by US courts- a brief but incisive article) [e-journal].
- Biotechnology Industry Organization (Bio) (2008), Guide to Biotechnology. Available to download (whilst at over 100 pages this is a fairly lengthy document, it provides a very clear and accessible introduction to the wide collection of technologies known as 'biotechnology').

- Arti Rai and James Boyle, 'Synthetic Biology: Caught Between Property Rights, the Public Domain and the Commons' (2007) 5(3) PloS Biology 389-393 (a contemporary discussion of the commodification of knowledge in the emerging discipline of 'synthetic biology').
- E Pieri & M Levitt, "Risky Individuals and the Politics of Genetic Research into Aggressiveness and Violence," (2008) 22(9) Bioethics 509-518 [e-journal].
- M Jones, 'Overcoming The Myth Of Free Will In Criminal Law: The True Impact of the Genetic Revolution' (2002-2003) 52 Duke Law Journal 1031-1053.
- N A Farahany & J Coleman, 'Genetics and Responsibility: To Know the Criminal from the Crime," (2006) 69 Law and Contemporary Problems 115-164 (argues that behavioural genetics lacks practical significance in liability assessment).
- Jonathan Kahn, 'Patenting Race' (2006) 24(11) Nature Biotechnology 1349-1351 [e-journal].
- Carl Elliot and Paul Brodwin, 'Identity and Genetic Ancestry Tracing' (2002) 325(7378) BMJ 1469-71 [e-journal].
- Eric Beckenhauer, 'Redefining Race: Can Genetic Testing Provide Biological Proof of Indian Ethnicity?' (2001) 56 Stanford Law Review 161-190 [e-journal].
- Susan Martha Kahn, 'The Multiple Meanings of Jewish Genes' (2005) 29(2) Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 179-192 [e-journal].

- Kristina Hug 'Therapeutic Perspectives of Stem Cell Research Versus the Moral Status of a Human Embryo: Does One Have to be Compromised for the Other?' (2006) 42(2) Medicina (Kaunas) 107-114. Available to download.
- Robin Lovell-Badge, 'The Regulation of Human Embryo and Stem-cell Research in the United Kingdom' (2008) 9(12) Nature Reviews: Molecular Cell Biology 998-1003 (a brief but highly informative account of the UK regulatory framework. Includes discussion of the amendments to the HFE Act 1990 made by the HFE Act 2008) [e-journal].
- Howard Wolinsky, 'Stem-cell Battles' (2010) 11(12) EMBO Reports 921-924 (a brief article discussing the politicised regulatory landscape in the United States) [e-journal].
- Brian Salter, 'The Global Politics of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Science' (2007) 13 Global Governance 277-298 [available via Hein Online and Business Source Premier].
- Aurora Plomer, 'The European Group on Ethics: Law, Politics and the Limits of Moral Integration in Europe¿ (2008) 14(6) European Law Journal 839 [e-journal].
- C.C. Macpherson ¿Global Bioethics: Did the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights Miss the Boat?¿ (2007) 33 Journal of Medical Ethics 588-590 [e-journal].
- A.V. Campbell, "Presidential Address: Global Bioethics: Dream or Nightmare" (1999) 13(3-4) Bioethics 183-190 (for older but still relevant commentary) [e-journal]

- Kathy Liddell, 'Case note: Purposive Interpretation and the March of Genetic Technology. A comment on R (Quintavalle) v Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (cell nuclear replacement) [2003] 2 W.L.R. 692 [2003]' (2003) 62(3) Cambridge Law Journal 563-566 (scroll down to p.563) [e-journal].
- Mike Adcock & Deryck Beyleveld,'Purposive Interpretation and the Regulation of Technology: Legal Constructs, Legal Fictions, and the Rule of Law', (2007) 8 Medical Law International 305-324.
- Sally Sheldon, ¿Saviour Siblings and the Discretionary Power of the HFEA¿, (2005) 13 Medical Law Review 403-411 [e-journal].
- Henry Greely, 'Regulating Human Biological Enhancements: Questionable Justifications and International Complications' (2005) University of Technology Sydney Law Review/Santa Clara Journal of International Law (joint issue).
- Michael Sandel, 'The Case Against Perfection' (April 2004), The Atlantic Monthly, 1-11.
- Julian Savulescu, 'In Defence of Procreative Beneficence' (2007) 33 JME 284-288 [e-journal].
- Eric B. Schmidt 'The Parental Obligation to Expand a Child's Range of Open Futures When Making Genetic Trait Selection for Their Child' (2007) 21(4) Bioethics 191-197 [e-journal].
- John Harris, 'Head to Head: Is it Acceptable for People to Take Methylphenidate to Enhance their Performance? Yes' (2009) 338 BMJ 1532-1533 [e-journal].
- Anjan Chatterjee, 'Head to Head: Is it Acceptable for People to Take Methylphenidate to Enhance their Performance? No' (2009) 338 BMJ 1532-1533 [e-journal].

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Research and Enquiry
The ability to analyse critically techno-legal scenarios, drawing on different regulatory regimes in order to demonstrate original and creative applications of knowledge and understanding.

Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
The facility to conduct independent study and research to a high level that demonstrates knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the importance of interaction between science, regulation and society.

Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Communication
The ability to engage critically in a group setting on issues of contemporary medico-legal relevance, drawing on a range of ethical, legal and professional sources and to justify robustly any positions take or defended.

Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal Effectiveness
The ability to manage time effective, preparing for deep engagement in class, to conduct research for assignments to the requisite level and to demonstrate improvement over the course of the module.

Technical/practical skills
The improvement of legal research and writing skills, drawing on new insights from ethical discourse and professional practice.
Keywordsmedical law,biotechnology
Course organiserMr Gerard Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 2023
Course secretaryMr David Morris
Tel: (0131 6)50 2010
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