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Unit information: Medical Law in 2023/24

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 Professor. Syrett
Open unit status Not open
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)


Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Unit Information

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.

Your learning on this unit

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.

How you will learn

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

How you will be assessed

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

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


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LAWD20039).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the University Workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. For appropriate assessments, if you have self-certificated your absence, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (for assessments at the end of TB1 and TB2 this is usually in the next re-assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any exceptional circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.