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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Contemporary Issues in Medical Jurisprudence (LAWS11329)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is designed to engage students with current live issues arising in the field of medical jurisprudence, being a discipline which sits at the cross-roads between law, medicine and ethics and is concerned primarily with legal and social responses to advances in medicine, heathcare and related technologies.

The course is deliberately designed to be open and responsive to issues that are current at the time of delivery in any given year. Accordingly, only broad indications as to topics and subject matter can be given is a description such as this. Likely issues to be covered include:

(a) start and end of life
(b) human genetics and biotechnologies
(c) regulation of medical research
(d) human enhancement
(e) artificial intelligence in healthcare

The core aims of the course are:

- To encourage critical awareness of current issues in a subject/discipline and one or more specialisms.
- To support students in planning and executing a significant project of research, investigation or development
- To foster originality or creativity in the application of knowledge, understanding and/ or practices
- To ensure that students apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to issues which are at the forefront of, or informed by, developments at the forefront of a subject/discipline
- To require students to communicate, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise
- To require students to communicate with peers, more senior colleagues and specialists
- To encourage students to take responsibility for own work and/or significant responsibility for the work of others.
Course description Indicative Teaching Programme

Given the deliberately open and responsive nature of this course, it would be inappropriate to attempt to give concrete topics. The topics will be chosen with the class in any given year under the oversight and direction of the course teachers. A broad indication of contemporary live topics will be introduced by the course teachers and it will be for students to decide amongst themselves which areas they would like to explore further. Suggestions and proposals will be invited from the students. Group interaction in this process will be encouraged and this will then be used as a means to take learning forward. Groups will be assisted to choose topics, develop materials, prepare to lead on seminar discussions, and to encourage mutual learning. The first few sessions will be led by staff as exemplars of the kinds of critical approaches and insights that can be explored. Skills development is central the course and will form an early part of the course interaction.

Thus, the overall outline of the course will have the following format:

Part 1 - Skills development (Seminars 1-4)

Seminar 1: Introduction: the course, expectations, overview of core topics in medical jurisprudence, likely topics and groups
Seminar 2: Final topics selection and groups
Seminar 3: Submission of preliminary reading lists/course handouts ahead of Seminar 3, to be discussed in class, and running order of seminars selected (final handouts to be submitted one day later, i.e. by 2pm Tuesday 26th January)
Seminar 4: Key skills development in critical thinking: staff example

Part 2 Exploring contemporary issues (weeks 5-10)

(These will consist of student-led group seminars)

Expectations for each seminar include:

1) Student-led seminar based on student-prepared reading material to be distributed in advance (topic and group selection in Seminar 2 and draft reading material distributed ahead of Seminar 3, as described above).

2) Clear learning objectives and conclusions to be prepared for each seminar.

3) Full preparation ahead of each seminar and participation in discussion by all in class.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed by way of the group seminar presentation (70%) and individual blogs (30%):

1. 70% assessment by way of group seminar presentation, to be made up of:

(i) the distribution of a handout with various levels of reading material;
(ii) the content and structure of the seminar itself, including the ability to distil clear objectives and conclusions; and
(iii) clarity of division of labour and responsibility of tasks within group.

Group work counts as an important part of the learning experience and assessment of this course. A single mark will be attributed to each group based on the quality of their handout materials and performance in class in leading their designated seminar. This mark stands for each individual in the group. It is the responsibility of everyone in the group to discuss and decide on a fair and equal division of labour to ensure that the mark is merited by everyone. To ensure that the distribution of labour is transparent to the course organiser, each student will submit - at the end of the course - an individual (max) two-page reflective report on the process of distributing, organising and delivering work within their group. The reflective report will be due (to be submitted on Learn) one week following the last class.

Furthermore, to help each group in its tasks, the course staff will offer each group a dedicated tutorial prior to submission of the handout to discuss progress, the seminar itself, and any issues about fair allocation of work. In the very rare case that there is strong evidence that one or more individual has not been contributing fairly to their group, the matter (and their mark) will be referred to the external examiner for a final decision on whether and how their own mark might be lowered. All group seminars will be recorded on Collaborate. This recording will only be shared with fellow classmates on the course, the academic staff on the course, and the external examiner to ensure fairness in marking and parity between groups.

2. 30% by way of two (2) individual blogs, written and submitted by each of you. Each blog must be 1000 words each and submitted via the Journal platform on the course Learn page. Instructions on the blog writing process (including submission) will be released in due course. You have the choice to decide which 2 of the 6 student-led seminars you wish to write a blog on; it need not be the seminar you lead. It is strongly encouraged that these blogs be written throughout the semester - not at the very end. You are strongly encouraged to submit your individual blog the same week following the relevant student-led seminar (seminars 5-10), i.e. by Friday each week, as the content of the seminar will be freshest in your mind, but the only deadline for submitting any and all blogs will be the final week of the course.
Feedback Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course. The formative feedback events for this course will be:

(1) A group meeting with an individual member of staff at which the group and its members will have a chance to discuss the planning and presentation of their chosen topic.

(2) Each student will have the opportunity to post a formative blog based on the staff-led 'live example' Seminar 4 and to receive feedback on it prior to the series of student group-led seminars (thus there are two summative blogs and one formative blog in total).

Feedback on the summative assessments (viz. the 4 blogs and student-led group seminar) will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify issues of contemporary relevance and be able to demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of their contemporary relevance, and in particular, the role of law in responding to them.
  2. Develop skills of independent and group-based research and preparation of materials to encourage engagement on the issues by peers and audiences beyond the Academy
  3. Develop skills of independent research and group working to present on topics of contemporary relevance and to encourage the same in peers
  4. Develop group working skills in the design, delivery and response to class topics, pursue topics in independent blogs and incorporate deep understanding in final assessments
  5. Manage personal and group dynamics, prepare to lead a seminar and prepare to participate in others, both in class and via personal blogs, legal research skills and technical skills in producing materials for classes and blog content.
Reading List
Individual reading lists will be circulated well in advance of the relevant seminar (i.e. by Seminar 3 for all subsequent seminars in this course).

Prescribed Text:

GT Laurie, SHE Harmon and ES Dove, Mason and McCall-Smith's Law and Medical Ethics, Eleventh Edition, Oxford University Press, 2019. (NB. A 12th edition is planned for publication in spring 2023.)

The Law Library has e-journals for leading outlets, including Medical Law Review, Medical Law International, and the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Given the focus on contemporary issues, much reliance will doubtless be made on web-based materials and students will be directed to credible sources including the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Council of Europe Bioethics site, the World Health Organization and many others.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Research and Enquiry:
- Students will be able to plan and execute a seminar in contemporary medical law, on a topic of their collective choosing.
- Critical research skills will be developed in preparing for the student-led seminar and individual blogs.
- Advanced practical application of law, policy, regulation and ethics will be acquired through the course in both group activities (viz. group student-led seminar) within the seminars and in individual research.
Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy:
- Individual assessed work will allow the students to exercise academic autonomy and rigorous delivery of research findings.
- Advanced critical research, argumentation, and communication skills.
Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Communication
- Communication of complex legal and regulatory issues to a range of audiences (as demonstrated through the delivery of complex medical law and medical ethics topics to fellow classmates).
- Advanced written and oral communication of complex legal, ethical and regulatory issues through the assessments and in-class activities (viz. individual blogs).
Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal Effectiveness:
- Plan and execute several personal blogs utilising a variety of sources.
- The student-led group seminars require that students apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of the issues discussed during the earlier seminars as well as in their planning meetings, held on their own time. By doing so, the student-led group seminars will allow students to develop original and creative responses to issues in medical law and medical ethics. They will be able to critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practices and thinking in these domains.
Technical/practical skills:
- Critical legal analysis. Problem-solving using real world examples from biomedicine.
- Sophisticated use of primary and secondary materials, and the ability to articulate their meaning both orally and in writing.
- Identify and conceptualise contemporary problems and issues in medical jurisprudence (comprising both medical law and medical ethics).
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Catriona McMillan
Course secretaryMiss Bethan Walters
Tel: (0131 6)50 2386
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