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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Law & Medical Ethics (10-credit) (LAWS11278)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryAn online course covering the fundamental aspects of contemporary health care and law, for health care and allied professionals.

This course offers you the opportunity to gain a solid grounding in the 'fundamentals' of medical jurisprudence (e.g. the central and pervasive concepts and principles relating to consent, negligence, confidentiality and mental competence, among others), and to discuss the relationship between the law, ethics, and the practice of medicine.

The course will be of interest to health care professionals, and those working in the health-related professions, wishing to acquire new knowledge and perspectives on the legal and ethical issues encountered in practice on a daily basis.

Several critical questions will be covered, such as:

1. What is legally valid consent
2. What standards of care does the law expect of your profession
3. When is it lawful to withhold or withdraw medical treatment
4. When is it permissible to breach patient confidentiality
5. How have human rights changed the face of modern medicine

By the end of the course, in addition to the stated learning outcomes, students will also be able to:

1. Give a critical account of the regulatory control of the medical profession, and the influences that structural issues have on broader questions of medical treatment;

2. Contextualise current issues in medical research in terms of the historic development of relevant codes and principles;

3. Understand and incorporate into practice the current and changing requirements regulating the medical treatment of mentally incompetent patients;

4. Constructively criticise the current safeguards, limitations and protections relating to genetics and reproduction.
Course description 1. Introduction to law & medical ethics
2. Consent to medical treatment
3. Refusal of medical treatment
4. Withholding & withdrawing care
5. Medical negligence
6. Patient confidentiality
7. Human rights & medical practice
8. Research & ethical approval
9. Mental capacity & mental health
10.Genetics, reproduction & the law
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Articulate the fundamental legal and ethical principles and concepts that inform and influence the practice of modern medicine;
  2. Reflect upon the role that concepts such as personhood, paternalism and autonomy have on health care professional duties, as well as on patient rights;
  3. Evaluate the central position of consent/refusal in medical care; in relation to different patients, including minors and the mentally incapacitated;
  4. Comment upon the concept of medical futility, and the legal and ethical elements relating to resource allocation, euthanasia and assisted suicide;
  5. Effectively assess the current systems of compensation for medical negligence
Reading List
JK Mason and GT Laurie, Mason and McCall-Smith's Law and Medical Ethics, 9th Edition, Oxford University Press, 2013.
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 organiserDr Murray Earle
Tel: (0131 6)50 8183
Course secretaryMs Clare Polson
Tel: (0131 6)51 9704
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