MA Medical Law and Ethics

Course Overview

The Medical Law and Ethics masters degree provides an opportunity to examine the structure and operation of the legal system in England and Wales, to look critically at the real life impact of law on practice within the medical care system and to do this in the context of an understanding of the ethical problems that arise in health care.

Key Features

Teaching and Employability:

  • teaching takes place in 3 or 4 day blocks rather than weekly attendance
  • the course is run by research active staff with significant experience of study and teaching in this area


Disclaimer: Module selection options may change.

Year 1 (Level 7 PGT)

FHEQ 7 Taught Masters / PGDip / PGCert
Compulsory Modules
Module CodeSemesterCreditsModule Name
SHPM48Semester 1 (Sep-Jan Taught)30Philosophy, Ethics & Medicine
SHPM49Semester 2 (Jan-Jun Taught)20The Boundaries of Life

Year 2 (Level 7 PGT)

FHEQ 7 Taught Masters / PGDip / PGCert
Compulsory Modules
Module CodeSemesterCreditsModule Name
SHPM45Semester 1 (Sep-Jan Taught)30Introduction to Law and Medicine
SHPM46Semester 1 (Sep-Jan Taught)20Patients, Professionals and the Law
SHPM47Semester 2 (Jan-Jun Taught)20Mental Health, Mental Capacity and the Law

Year 3 (Level 7 PGT)

FHEQ 7 Taught Masters Dissertation
Compulsory Modules
Module CodeSemesterCreditsModule Name
SHPM20Semester 1 and Semester 2 (Sep-Jun Taught)60Dissertation (MA Medical Law and Ethics)


The course provides a basis for critical reflection on the ethical value-judgements that are found in medicine with a particular focus on those issues relating to birth and death.  It then looks at the operation of the legal system and in detail at the impact of legislation and the courts on the provision of medical care.    

Entry Requirements

  • a relevant UK degree (usually of grade 2:2 or above)
  • or a period of professional experience in a relevant field

How To Apply

Applicants are encouraged to apply online as this will make it easier to track their progress.

The MA Medical Law and Ethics is not currently available to international students.

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2019/20 are as follows:

UK/EU International
MA Part-time £2,400 £5,250

Tuition fees for years of study after your first year are subject to an increase of 3%.

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

International students and part-time study: It is now possible for some students to study part-time under the Tier 4 visa route. This is dependent on factors relating to the course and your individual situation. It may also be possible to study with us if you are already in the UK under a different visa category. Please visit the University information on Visas and Immigration for further guidance and support.

Current students: You can find further information of your fee costs on our tuition fees page.

Additional Costs

Students are likely to encounter additional costs at university. These can include, amongst others:

  • buying stationery and equipment, such as USB sticks, etc.
  • personal copies of core texts (loan copies are available in the University library)
  • printing and photocopying
  • binding of research projects/ dissertations
  • some research projects require a Disclosure and Barring Service Check
  • gowns for graduation ceremonies

Please note there are no mandatory additional costs specified for this course. 

Course Structure

Students of Medical Law and Ethics will study on a part-time basis.

Part one modules are taught over two years, and dissertations must be submitted by 15th October of the third year.

Each module in part one involves attendance at a three or four day teaching conference followed by a one-day seminar approximately one month later.


Each module studied in part one will be assessed by an assignment which has a pass mark of 50%.

Staff Expertise

The MA Medical Law and Ethics team are experts in their field. Please see a number of selected publications below:

  • Richard Griffith & Cassam Tengnah, Law and Professional Issues in Nursing, Exeter: Learning Matters (2008)
  • Hugh Upton, ‘Rationing: the loss of a concept’, Journal of Medical Ethics 37/7 (2011).
  • Hugh Upton, ‘Presumed consent and organ donation’, Clinical Ethics 7/3 (2012)

Postgraduate Community

The College of Human and Health Sciences has a vibrant postgraduate community with students drawn from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities. The College is known for its friendly, welcoming and supportive environment, which combined with its extensive facilities, state-of-the-art technology and superb beachside location, helps to ensure that students benefit from an exceptional student experience. 


In addition, students have access to a wide range of excellent facilities and equipment for realistic workplace experiences find out more here  or take a virtual tour  of the college.