Medical Law and Ethics (FHS)

This course covers selected legal, ethical and medical issues arising in medical practice and research. It focuses on issues of consent, autonomy and best interests of the patient and other interested parties, and how these create intersections with other areas of law, such as tort, criminal and personal property law.

Four core areas of medical law are covered: intentional torts and clinical negligence; reproductive medicine and rights; organ donation and transplantation; and end of life issues. Lectures cover both the legal and ethical issues arising in those areas of medicine, and assume knowledge of the relevant law already covered in the Law Moderations Criminal Law course, and the FHS Tort Law course. Students will be encouraged to take a critical approach and consider where the law may require reform, drawing on the legal and ethical literature to support their views. The course also includes lectures on reasoning in ethics, which will cover various methodologies in ethics for determining about how to act, to give students a grounding in how conclusions about ethical issues are reached (and critiqued), and on a range of issues in medical ethics not covered elsewhere in the course.

The subject is through five tutorials and a series of 20 lectures. The lectures are intended to be interactive and students should be expect to be called upon to participate in discussion and debate. Lectures will cover the syllabus, and a number of guest lecturers will also speak on topics of interest in medical ethics. These guests will include barristers, medical practitioners, religious leaders and members of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

The course is assessed entirely by means of extended writing assessment, undertaken at the end of Hilary Term.  

Learning outcomes: a critical understanding of the principal areas of medical law and of the social and ethical considerations relating to his field of law.