Skip to main content

Unit information: Medical Law in 2020/21

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

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 Dr. Quick
Open unit status Not open




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


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 law and ethics;
  • Regulation of the medical profession;
  • The structure of the healthcare system;
  • Resource allocation;
  • Consent to/authorisation of treatment both for persons who have, and who are deemed to lack, decision-making capacity.

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

  • Abortion;
  • End of life (definitions of death and dying; treatment of patients with serious/terminal illness; advance directives; assisted dying);
  • Mental health
  • Organ donation & transplantation;
  • Patient safety;
  • Children and consent to treatment.

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 relevant cases and statutes, being able to state the law accurately;
  • Critically evaluate when, how, and why law should govern medical practice;
  • Explain and apply legal principles to practical and policy problems;
  • Think critically about ways in which the law could be reformed;
  • Exercise and apply critical legal research skills.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Details

1 x summative assessment: coursework with a specified word count (100%)

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

Reading and References

The recommended background text for the unit is Emily Jackson, Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials, (5th Ed.) Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2019.