Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Medicine Ethics and the Law
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Unseen Exam  50%
Semester Assessment 2500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Exam Resit missed or failed unseen exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit missed of failed 2500 word essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Students are expected to provide evidence of a detailed and critical appreciation of the issues both in terms of their relevance to abstract philosophical concerns, scientific developments and social policy, and to practical legal principles and practice.

2. Assess and interpret critically evidence and source material (interdisciplinary)

3. Evaluation of complex and conflicting argument and evidence in a detailed manner.​

Brief description

This module considers the relationship between law and ethics dealing in detail with such issues as confidentiality, medical negligence, consent to medical treatment, resource allocation, euthanasia, assisted conception, abortion and mental health. Medical ethics has always been a subject of major concern to practitioners and these issues arise throughout medical practice. The most divisive and complex issues concerning medical ethics turn around questions of life and death which will be considered in depth through abortion, euthanasia and assisted conception. Issues of life and death are pervasive and increasingly become discussed not merely as philosophical medical and legal problems, but also as a resource issue. Medical care is a costly enterprise and choices must be made concerning priorities. On what basis should such decisions be made? These and other general ethical issues will form the basis of the course. They will then be developed in relation to particular issues. Those chosen are indicative of the most sensitive issues, they do not form an exhaustive list. The intention of the course is to introduce these dilemmas and consider and evaluate their legal, ethical and practical implications.

People are today living longer, often due to advancements in medical science, yet this increased life expectancy may not always be considered a blessing. Should a patient be allowed to choose to die? In what circumstances will the law protect the respective rights of a pregnant woman and her foetus? A number of cases highlight the extent to which the medical profession is confronted with such issues.

Medicine is an imprecise science and calls for a clinical judgement. To what extent should society penalise doctors for their mistakes? An over-punitive legal regime can lead doctors to exercise too much caution and can lead to defensive medicine. However, too lax a regime creates the impression that doctors are a law unto themselves. How should medicine be regulated?

Patients who are mentally incompetent will need particular care. They can neither agree to, nor refuse treatment. The court's power to intervene is ambiguous in the case of an adult and the next-of-kin can do no more than express an opinion. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 declares that the doctor would not be acting unlawfully if she or he acts in their patients "best interests". Who should decide what is in their best interests? Has this legislation improved the plight of those who lack capacity?

It is estimated that one in six couples is infertile. There are many forms of treatment for infertility, each one posing very difficult ethical questions. Do people have a right to a child? Who should be eligible for treatment? To what extent should we be able to determine the sex of a child or his or her genetic composition?

The module will give recognition to the split between self regulation by the medical profession and the potential need for external regulation whether by law or other means. The difficulties raised in attempting to reconcile the ethical dilemmas of medical practice with the prescriptive approach of the law will be highlighted.


1. ​Introduction to Ethics

2. Medical Negligence

3. Medical Records and Confidentiality

4. Provision of Healthcare in the NHS

5. Consent

6. Abortion and neonates

7. Euthanasia

8. Assisted Conception

9. Cloning

10. Mental Health

30 x 1 hour lectures
6 x 1 hour seminars

Student workload:
200 hours

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Seminar discussions will develop individual and group presentation and oral argument.
Improving own Learning and Performance Seminar participation and exam preparation will develop different aspects of personal academic development, from understanding and referencing sources through to the dissemination of ideas to others orally, and via written communication skills.
Information Technology Library and research skills are fundamental to preparation for seminars and exam.
Personal Development and Career planning Recommended topic for the legal profession.
Problem solving Preparation for seminars and exams will involve problem scenarios for students to tackle.
Research skills These skills will be developed through preparation for seminars and the exam.
Subject Specific Skills Reading and understanding relevant materials in the field of Medical Law
Team work Group activities and discussion in seminars


This module is at CQFW Level 6