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Unit information: Medical Law in 2016/17

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Unit name Medical Law
Unit code LAWD20039
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Mrs. Elizabeth Mumford
Open unit status Not open

LAWD10011 Law of Tort



School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an introduction to the general principles of Medical Law and a detailed study of specific topics within the field. General topics are:

  • medical ethics and medical law;
  • regulation of the medical profession;
  • consent to treatment (adults, children, mentally incompetent persons);
  • mental health;
  • confidentiality and access to records.

Specific topics, not all of which will be covered each year, are:

  • beginning of life (assisted conception: IVF/donor insemination/surrogacy; research on human embryos; contraception and abortion; wrongful birth and wrongful life; genetic screening and counselling; ante-natal duties of care);
  • medical research;
  • organ donation & transplantation;
  • end of life (definitions of death and dying; treatment of patients with serious/terminal illness; severely ill/handicapped new-borns; advance directives);
  • dealing with medical mishaps;
  • allocation of resources.

Sometimes, in fields characterised by rapid technical advances, there will be no law. In other areas, the law is being made and public opinion solicited. Your own (considered) views matter; an exchange of ideas is an essential component of the course. Often, lecturers and students will differ in their opinions. We fully expect this and hope it will lead to good discussion.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the principles of Medical Law and the areas of medical ethics that relate to the law, and a facility in relating one to the other
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant cases and statutes
  • Critically evaluate the question of what the law should be
  • State the law accurately
  • Apply legal principles to problem case scenarios
  • Think critically about ways in which the law could be reformed

This unit is also intended to improve benchmark skills – specifically IT skills, which are used in particular to find recent case law and other resources relating to all aspects of medical law.

Teaching Information

20 lectures and 8 tutorials, plus 5 lectures in the Foundations of Legal Research programme

Assessment Information

Two summative pieces of coursework of 2,000 words, each contributing 50% to the final mark.

Students are required to submit one formative essay.

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

Jackson, E. (2013) Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials, Oxford University Press, Oxford (4th Edition forthcoming summer 2016)