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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Mental Health Law (LAWS11489)

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 Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn recent years there has been an increase in talking freely and openly about mental health issues and what it is to experience mental health conditions have become more acceptable in mainstream society. This course, is highly relevant in today's world and recognises the importance of expanding and developing knowledge and understanding of mental health issues and the application of mental health law. The main aim of the course is to examine the development of mental health law and how it is applied to related conditions that arise throughout the spectrum of life, beginning with diagnosis of conditions through early years, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senior years. As well as examining specific legislation, the course (to a lesser extent) will focus on changing societal attitudes to mental health and the growing recognition that mental health is as important as physical health. The course will also consider the provisions in Scots law and that in England & Wales and Northern Ireland, for the care and detention of offenders who have a mental health diagnosis. It should be noted that the basis of this course lies in the law and legislation; it does not seek to focus on medical diagnosis or treatment for mental health conditions. It will take account of UK jurisdictions, through admitting equivalent discussion from an international Masters degree cohort.
Course description The course will consist in a series (10) of weekly topics on the Learn platform; these will cover a set of topics in Mental Health Law. The intention will be to begin by introducing some basic concepts, such as mental capacity, and build on this to discuss the extensive legislative provisions in place in the UK jurisdictions, as well as the impact on individuals where they experience a mental health diagnosis. Discussion will take place on Learn, based on set topics and questions.

Ten (10) weekly online topics:

Topic 1: Introduction
This seminar will outline the course and provider a historical overview of mental health law provision. Reference will also be made to the use of relevant terminology, as well as issues such as statutory guardianship, the parens patriae jurisdiction, human rights and best interests.

Topic 2: The Legislative Framework in the UK
This seminar will identify, compare and contrast mental health and capacity laws in the four UK jurisdictions.

Topic 3: Key Institutions
This seminar will consider the roles of relevant institutions in mental health law. This includes the Courts generally, the (former) Court of Protection, the Law Society and Law Society of Scotland, Parliament and devolved ministrations, Public Guardian, and Official Solicitor.

Topic 4: Mental health, capacity and best interests
This seminar will consider the relationship between best interests and mental health, focusing in particular on medical treatment for mental health conditions and in respect of health conditions not related to a patient's mental health.

Topic 5: Capacity and sexual relationships
This seminar will comprise a continuation of Seminar 4 and conclude with a segue into the subject of mental health and criminal responsibility.

Topic 6: The 'Fusion' Legislation Approach
The 'fusion' approach involves combining mental capacity and mental health laws. It is an approach which has recently been adopted in Northern Ireland and is currently in the process of being implemented in that UK jurisdiction. It has also been considered as a way forward in reforming the Mental Health Act 1983 (England & Wales). An examination of the fusion approach will form the basis for considering broader conceptual issues around how mental health is defined and characterised in policy and legal discourse, and will provide an important springboard for the subsequent examination of the relationship between mental health and human rights in Seminars 9 and 10.

Topic 7: Mental health and deprivation of liberty
This seminar will focus on the human rights implications of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) schemes in the UK. The issue of DoLS would already have been touched upon earlier in the course but this seminar would build on that to examine the seminal UK Supreme Court judgment in Cheshire West (criteria for judging whether the living arrangements made for a mentally incapacitated person amount to a deprivation of liberty); how it has been applied in the UK jurisdictions; how DoLS has been interpreted in the Court of Protection in England & Wales; and the operation of the new Liberty Protection Safeguards scheme in England & Wales.

Topic 8: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
This seminar will focus on an examination of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its relationship with existing UK mental health and capacity legislation, as well as the UK's non-compliance with the Convention. A particular focus of examination will be on Article 12 CRPD, exploring the notion of legal capacity and the supported decision-making model.

Topic 9: Mental Health and Criminal Justice I
Policy perspectives in relation to mental health and crime (links to previous week's discussion of legislatures; the relationships between mental disorder and crime; and understanding responses to mentally disordered offenders, including in the media.

Topic 10: Mental Health and Criminal Justice II
Current psychiatric defences and contemporary mental health disposals and services, including relations with victims of mentally disordered offenders.

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:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Online Activities 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) 1000 word policy brief (40%)
4000 word essay (60%)
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to obtain formative feedback over the course of the semester. The feedback provided will assist students in their preparation for the summative assessment.

Details of the School's feedback policy will be available at the start of the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. recognise the growing need for knowledge and understanding of the law relating to mental health and the move towards dispelling the stigmas attached to associated conditions. The student will understand the relationship between a mental health diagnosis and crime; between that diagnosis and medical treatment (capacity); and the relationship between a range of rights and both current and proposed statutory mental health provisions.
  2. apply knowledge and understanding of the law to case studies, and acquire the skills and show the academic confidence necessary to critically analyse and comment upon current law as well as academic research and opinion.
  3. demonstrate the ability to work independently in researching and analysing issues in mental health law.
  4. communicate clearly through written assignments their understanding and application of the legal issues covered by the course
  5. demonstrate independent learning, the ability to research, write and discuss at a professional level the subject matter of the course.
Reading List
1. Gordon Ashton, Mr Justice Baker and Judge Mark Martin (eds), Mental Capacity Law in Practice (4th edition, Jordan Publishing 2018).
2. Emily Jackson, Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials (5th edn, OUP 2019)
3. Graeme Laurie, Shawn Harmon and Edward Dove, Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics (11th edn, OUP 2019).
4. Dominic Wilkinson, Jonathan Herring and Julian Savulescu, Medical Ethics and Law: A Curriculum for the 21st Century (3rd edn, Elsevier 2020).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information We will be offering students the chance to join the on-campus cohort for their live weekly seminars.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Murray Earle
Tel: (0131 6)50 8183
Course secretaryMs Clare Polson
Tel: (0131 6)51 9704
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