Healthcare Ethics and Law

Ethics and law

Course details

The online MSc in Healthcare Ethics and Law provides you with an opportunity to gain a deeper and more systematic understanding of ethical and legal issues in relation to healthcare.

It allows you to explore the ethical and legal problems which you may face in work, to recognise issues raising potential legal liability and to understand healthcare practice in its legal and social context.

The programme caters for healthcare, legal, allied professionals and administrators who wish to review and update their thinking about ethical issues including medical and nursing professionals, ethics committee members, hospital administrators and officials in government department with responsibilities for healthcare. Members of the legal profession, pharmaceutical industry and other professionals such as hospital chaplains may also find the programme of benefit.

The MSC in Healthcare Ethics and Law is delivered part-time over a two-year period. All lectures will be delivered online for 2023-24.

In Year 1, five modules are delivered are assessed, in nine teaching blocks from October to June.

In Year 2, three modules are delivered and assessed, in five teaching blocks from October to February.

Lectures, tutorials and case studies across Year 1 and 2 are delivered once a month on a Friday and Saturday from 9am - 5pm each day. A sample timetable is available below.

All lectures and seminars will continue to be delivered online for the 2022-23 academic year. This is subject to review for the 2023-24 academic year.

Introduction to Healthcare Ethics and Law This module is a foundation module and introduces you to the philosophical and legal principles that underpin healthcare ethics and law.  
Autonomy and Paternalism This module explores in detail the many changes that have occurred in  the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients and examines the implications of these changes. Important themes such as patient and professional autonomy are explored as well as the implications of autonomy for confidentiality and consent
The Beginning of Life – Ethical and Legal Issues The aim of this module is to introduce you to the moral and legal status of the human foetus, the issues involved in termination of pregnancy and the various ethical and legal issues that arise in a range of assisted reproduction technologies.
The End of Life – Ethical and Legal Issues This module explores the issues which occur in the care of patients at the end of their lives. The aim of this module is to ensure that you gain a good understanding of the different ethical and legal issues that may arise in end-of-life care. It also explores how autonomy has increasingly affected decision making at the end of life and how this impacts on the responses of healthcare professionals. 
Public Health This module introduces you to the ethical issues that arise when the topic of resource allocation is addressed. It examines the legal and ethical issues in mental healthcare, intellectual disability and neuro-ethics. Legal and ethical issues that arise in human enhancement are also explored.
Research Methods This module provides you with the tools and skills necessary to apply appropriate research methodologies and to complete a dissertation to MSc standard. It explores the legal and ethical issues when conducting human and animal research. 
Implications of the New Genetics This module addresses the issues arising in genetic testing, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, human stem cell research and human cloning.
Dissertation At the end of the programme, you are required to submit a dissertation of 16,000 words on a topic of your choice. You will be assigned a dissertation director who will assist you in your work. The dissertation aims to encourage you to engage in more in-depth and systematic research in your chosen topic.

A comprehensive overview of each module is available here


Your learning on each module is assessed by one of a number of methods, including coursework assignments, research proposal and a research dissertation.

This programme will provide you with the skills and knowledge to:

  • Understand the major theoretical bases of the principles of healthcare ethics and healthcare law. 
  • Analyse the real implications of moral and legal theories, especially theories of justice, for both society and the individual.  
  • Analyse and critically evaluate claims based on expert knowledge. 
  • Reflect upon, analyse, critically evaluate and articulate your own ethical position.  
  • Lead and provide expertise in the area of healthcare ethics and law. 
  • Develop an awareness of how ethics in healthcare relates to the practice of healthcare in different contexts.  
  • Understand and respect the importance of inter-professional teamwork and interagency co-operation.  
  • Benefit from both inter-professional and inter-disciplinary education. 


Friday Saturday
  • Course introduction
  • Coffee break
  • The origins of Bioethics in Today's Medicine
Types of Ethical Theory
Afternoon Healthcare Ethics and the Four Principles An Introduction to Law and Court Procedures


  Friday Saturday
Morning What is Medical Law and Confidentiality Professionalism in Healthcare
Afternoon Methods of Ethical Reasoning
  • Library Searching for use of Endnote - How to write a critical review of an article
  • Critical Article Review


  Friday Saturday
Morning Patient and Professional Autonomy Data Protection and Privacy
Afternoon Consent to Medical Treatment The Human Rights Act


  Friday Saturday
Morning Ethical Issues Before Birth Global Health
Afternoon Human Rights and Healthcare Abortion Law


  Friday  Saturday
Morning End-of-Life Healthcare Ethics Medical Decisions at the End of Life
Afternoon Introduction to Assisted Reproduction Assisted Reproduction and the Law


  Friday Saturday
Morning Palliative Care and Palliative Sedation Assisted Reproduction
Afternoon Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide How to Analysis a Legal Judgement


  Friday Saturday
Morning End of Life Decision-making in Neonatal Care and the Treatment of Children Organ Donations and Transplantation
Afternoon End of Life Decision-making in ICU Case Studies


  Friday Saturday
Morning Ethical Issues in Psychiatry Ethical Issues in Public Health
Afternoon Neuroethics Ethical Issues in Public Health


  Friday Saturday
Morning Resource Allocation The Law and the Mental Health Patient
Afternoon Legal issues in Organ Donation and Tissue Retention Ethical and Legal Issues in Intellectual Disability Services