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Medical Ethics & Law MA

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Our MA in Medical Ethics and Law focuses on the legal and ethical questions raised in the context of medicine. These may include debates about: consent to treatment in the case of adults; decision-making where an adult lacks capacity to consent to a given treatment; duties of care relating to treatment and to information disclosure; the treatment of children; adolescents and consent to treatment; assisted reproduction and abortion; assisted suicide, euthanasia and end of life decisions; organ donation; psychiatric ethics and mental health law; criminal law and mental disorder; autonomy and public health; the allocation of scarce resources; reproductive ethics; and global health. The MA in Medical Law focuses on various legal aspects of the above, with the option of studying one ethics module.

Key benefits

  • The most up-to-date legal and ethical scholarship applied to a wide range of issues in relation to science and medicine. For the medical law only programme, the focus is on legal issues.
  • The programmes discuss controversial issues such as assisted suicide and abortion with a balanced, analytical approach.
  • Teaching is conducted in small seminar groups of less than 30 to encourage active student participation.
  • Supported by the UK's first Centre of Medical Law and Ethics and its team of academic staff, each of whom has a very strong research profile and is actively engaged in associated policy issues.

The MA Medical Ethics and Law, established in 1978, examines in depth the legal and ethical questions raised by medical practice and science. The Medical Law only programme is a pathway under the MA Medical Ethics and Law.  Students can decide at induction which programme they wish to pursue (ethics and law; or law only, with the option of taking one ethics module). There are always developments in medical practice and science of great interest to medical ethics and law. Huge legal and ethical questions are raised by advances in fields such as genetics and assisted reproduction. In a changing moral climate, debates about conflicts between a pregnant woman and her fetus, or about physician-assisted suicide, are very much alive. There are challenging ethical and legal questions about psychiatry, about capacity issues in relation to treatment decisions, about the allocation of scarce medical resources, about autonomy and public health, and many other issues. These programmes are designed for medical or legal professionals, graduates of a relevant discipline and those embarking on further research in this area. You will study the methods of reasoning and analysis in law and ethics (if doing the joint programme, or mainly law if doing the medical law programme) and examine selected areas of health care and medical practice from a medical law and ethics perspective.

Base campuses

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Strand Campus

Located on the north bank of the River Thames, the Strand Campus houses King's College London's arts and sciences faculties.

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Waterloo Campus

Waterloo campus is home of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery and facilities for other faculties

Regulating bodies

King's is regulated by the Office for Students

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Teaching methods - what to expect

You will largely be taught through seminar-style teaching in sessions of two hours per module per week. All Law classes taught by Centre staff are on Tuesdays (with the occasional exception of a repeat class on a Wednesday that only full-time students would be asked to attend). There may be one or two additional modules available to students taught by other members of the School or wider College, the timetable for which varies from year to year.

Full-time

Full time students have an average of six (15 credit) taught modules across the year, which makes an average of three taught modules per semester, resulting in average formal contact time of six seminar hours per week (two hours per module). However, this will vary depending on which modules you choose to take and in which semester they are taught.

Note: There will also be (typically) three or four one-hour group taught sessions relating to the dissertation module.

Self study is expected to be about 32-34 hours per week.

Contact time is based on 24 academic weeks (typically there is one reading week per semester), whereas self-study time is based on 31 academic weeks.

The total notional study hours for the MA are 1,800. Notional study hours comprise formal teaching and learning activities, such as seminars, as well as assessments and independent research and study.

Part-time

If studying part-time for the MA in Medical Ethics and Law, you will study Ethics modules in your first year, on Thursdays, and Law modules, in your second year, on Tuesdays (apart from one or two modules not taught by Centre staff). You will work on your dissertation mainly in your second year.

If studying part-time for the MA in Medical Law, you will study Law modules in both years, taught on Tuesdays (apart from one or two not taught by Centre staff) and have the option to take one Ethics module, taught on Thursdays. You must take Medical Law I: Consent, Refusal and Request in your first year. You will work on your dissertation mainly in your second year.

Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work. 

Assessment

  • Coursework
  • Exams
  • Dissertation

Many modules are assessed by coursework. Some modules are assessed by exam. The dissertation can range in length from 12,000 to 15,000 words.

Structure

Required modules

Courses are divided into modules. All students will normally take modules totalling 180 credits, including the dissertation module (60 credits). Students are required to take the following modules:

If taking the MA in Medical Ethics and Law, you are required to take these modules:

Dissertation in Medical Ethics and Law (60 credits)
Medical Law I: Consent, Refusal and Request (15 credits)
Moral Theory & Medical Ethics (15 credits)

If taking the MA in Medical Law, you are required to take these modules:

Dissertation in Medical Law (60 credits)
Medical Law I: Consent, Refusal and Request (15 credits)

Optional modules

If taking the MA in Medical Ethics and Law, in addition you are required to take a further 45 credits of Law modules and 45 credits of Ethics modules: Law modules offered may include:

Mental Health and Capacity Law: The Civil Context (15 credits)
Coroners and Inquests (15 credits)
Law at the End of Life (15 credits)
Law and Reproduction (15 credits)
Medical Law II: Negligence & Misadventure (15 credits)
Criminal Law and Mental Disorder (15 credits)

Ethics modules may include:

Mental Health Ethics (15 credits)
Justice and Resource Allocation (15 credits)
Autonomy and Public Health (15 credits)
Reproductive Ethics (15 credits)
Global Health Ethics (15 credits)
Ethics (15 credits)
Clinical Research Ethics (15 credits)

If you are taking the MA in Medical Law, in addition you are required to take 105 credits from a range of optional modules, which may include:

Mental Health and Capacity Law: The Civil Context (15 credits)
Coroners and Inquests (15 credits)
Law at the End of Life (15 credits)
Law and Reproduction (15 credits)
Medical Law II: Negligence & Misadventure (15 credits)
Criminal Law and Mental Disorder (15 credits)
Moral Theory & Medical Ethics (15 credits)
Human Rights Law: International and Transnational Perspectives (30 credits)

Please note that Moral Theory and Medical Ethics is the only Ethics module students on the MA in Medical Law are permitted to take. King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to- date, innovative and relevant courses of study. The options on offer can also vary depending on the availability of specialist teaching staff. Therefore, the optional modules offered may change. We expect to finalise the module list by June 30th, 2022. If you would like further information about module availability, please contact pgt-law@kcl.ac.uk after this date.

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Employability

Many alumni have gone on to work in policy-related roles including positions at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Human Tissue Authority, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Department of Health and Social Care. Several alumni have also worked in the BMA Ethics Department, for the GMC, Progress Educational Trust, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the King’s Fund, and medical defence societies. Others have found academic positions in law schools and research centres, some teaching ethics and/or law in medical schools. Others have progressed to PhD studies.

Tuition Fees

UK:

Full time: £11,040 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £5,520 per year (2022/23)

International:

Full time: £24,660 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £12,330 per year (2022/23)

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

Deposit

When you receive an offer for this course you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your place. The deposit will be credited towards your total fee payment.

The UK deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000.

  • If you receive an offer on or before 31 March, payment is due by 25 April 2022.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 April and 30 June, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 July and 31 July, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 August and 21 August, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer from 22 August onwards, payment is due within three days of receiving the offer.

If you are a current King’s student in receipt of the King's Living Bursary you are not required to pay a deposit to secure your place on the programme. Please note, this will not change the total fees payable for your chosen programme. 

Please visit our web pages on fees and funding for more information.

Additional Costs

In addition to your tuition costs, you can also expect to pay for:

  • Books if you choose to buy your own copies 
  • Clothing for optional course related events and competitions 
  • Library fees and fines 
  • Personal photocopies and/or binding costs 
  • Printing course handouts 
  • Society membership fees
  • Stationery
  • Graduation costs
  • Travel costs for travel around London and between campuses 

Funding

The MA Medical Ethics and Law, established in 1978, examines in depth the legal and ethical questions raised by medical practice and science. The Medical Law only programme is a pathway under the MA Medical Ethics and Law.  Students can decide at induction which programme they wish to pursue (ethics and law; or law only, with the option of taking one ethics module). There are always developments in medical practice and science of great interest to medical ethics and law. Huge legal and ethical questions are raised by advances in fields such as genetics and assisted reproduction. In a changing moral climate, debates about conflicts between a pregnant woman and her fetus, or about physician-assisted suicide, are very much alive. There are challenging ethical and legal questions about psychiatry, about capacity issues in relation to treatment decisions, about the allocation of scarce medical resources, about autonomy and public health, and many other issues. These programmes are designed for medical or legal professionals, graduates of a relevant discipline and those embarking on further research in this area. You will study the methods of reasoning and analysis in law and ethics (if doing the joint programme, or mainly law if doing the medical law programme) and examine selected areas of health care and medical practice from a medical law and ethics perspective.

Base campuses

strand-quad
Strand Campus

Located on the north bank of the River Thames, the Strand Campus houses King's College London's arts and sciences faculties.

waterloo-banner
Waterloo Campus

Waterloo campus is home of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery and facilities for other faculties

Regulating bodies

King's is regulated by the Office for Students

Loading...

Teaching methods - what to expect

You will largely be taught through seminar-style teaching in sessions of two hours per module per week. All Law classes taught by Centre staff are on Tuesdays (with the occasional exception of a repeat class on a Wednesday that only full-time students would be asked to attend). There may be one or two additional modules available to students taught by other members of the School or wider College, the timetable for which varies from year to year.

Full-time

Full time students have an average of six (15 credit) taught modules across the year, which makes an average of three taught modules per semester, resulting in average formal contact time of six seminar hours per week (two hours per module). However, this will vary depending on which modules you choose to take and in which semester they are taught.

Note: There will also be (typically) three or four one-hour group taught sessions relating to the dissertation module.

Self study is expected to be about 32-34 hours per week.

Contact time is based on 24 academic weeks (typically there is one reading week per semester), whereas self-study time is based on 31 academic weeks.

The total notional study hours for the MA are 1,800. Notional study hours comprise formal teaching and learning activities, such as seminars, as well as assessments and independent research and study.

Part-time

If studying part-time for the MA in Medical Ethics and Law, you will study Ethics modules in your first year, on Thursdays, and Law modules, in your second year, on Tuesdays (apart from one or two modules not taught by Centre staff). You will work on your dissertation mainly in your second year.

If studying part-time for the MA in Medical Law, you will study Law modules in both years, taught on Tuesdays (apart from one or two not taught by Centre staff) and have the option to take one Ethics module, taught on Thursdays. You must take Medical Law I: Consent, Refusal and Request in your first year. You will work on your dissertation mainly in your second year.

Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work. 

Assessment

  • Coursework
  • Exams
  • Dissertation

Many modules are assessed by coursework. Some modules are assessed by exam. The dissertation can range in length from 12,000 to 15,000 words.

Structure

Required modules

Courses are divided into modules. All students will normally take modules totalling 180 credits, including the dissertation module (60 credits). Students are required to take the following modules:

If taking the MA in Medical Ethics and Law, you are required to take these modules:

Dissertation in Medical Ethics and Law (60 credits)
Medical Law I: Consent, Refusal and Request (15 credits)
Moral Theory & Medical Ethics (15 credits)

If taking the MA in Medical Law, you are required to take these modules:

Dissertation in Medical Law (60 credits)
Medical Law I: Consent, Refusal and Request (15 credits)

Optional modules

If taking the MA in Medical Ethics and Law, in addition you are required to take a further 45 credits of Law modules and 45 credits of Ethics modules: Law modules offered may include:

Mental Health and Capacity Law: The Civil Context (15 credits)
Coroners and Inquests (15 credits)
Law at the End of Life (15 credits)
Law and Reproduction (15 credits)
Medical Law II: Negligence & Misadventure (15 credits)
Criminal Law and Mental Disorder (15 credits)

Ethics modules may include:

Mental Health Ethics (15 credits)
Justice and Resource Allocation (15 credits)
Autonomy and Public Health (15 credits)
Reproductive Ethics (15 credits)
Global Health Ethics (15 credits)
Ethics (15 credits)
Clinical Research Ethics (15 credits)

If you are taking the MA in Medical Law, in addition you are required to take 105 credits from a range of optional modules, which may include:

Mental Health and Capacity Law: The Civil Context (15 credits)
Coroners and Inquests (15 credits)
Law at the End of Life (15 credits)
Law and Reproduction (15 credits)
Medical Law II: Negligence & Misadventure (15 credits)
Criminal Law and Mental Disorder (15 credits)
Moral Theory & Medical Ethics (15 credits)
Human Rights Law: International and Transnational Perspectives (30 credits)

Please note that Moral Theory and Medical Ethics is the only Ethics module students on the MA in Medical Law are permitted to take. King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to- date, innovative and relevant courses of study. The options on offer can also vary depending on the availability of specialist teaching staff. Therefore, the optional modules offered may change. We expect to finalise the module list by June 30th, 2022. If you would like further information about module availability, please contact pgt-law@kcl.ac.uk after this date.

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Employability

Many alumni have gone on to work in policy-related roles including positions at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Human Tissue Authority, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the Department of Health and Social Care. Several alumni have also worked in the BMA Ethics Department, for the GMC, Progress Educational Trust, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the King’s Fund, and medical defence societies. Others have found academic positions in law schools and research centres, some teaching ethics and/or law in medical schools. Others have progressed to PhD studies.

Tuition Fees

UK:

Full time: £11,040 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £5,520 per year (2022/23)

International:

Full time: £24,660 per year (2022/23)

Part time: £12,330 per year (2022/23)

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

Deposit

When you receive an offer for this course you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your place. The deposit will be credited towards your total fee payment.

The UK deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000.

  • If you receive an offer on or before 31 March, payment is due by 25 April 2022.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 April and 30 June, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 July and 31 July, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 August and 21 August, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer from 22 August onwards, payment is due within three days of receiving the offer.

If you are a current King’s student in receipt of the King's Living Bursary you are not required to pay a deposit to secure your place on the programme. Please note, this will not change the total fees payable for your chosen programme. 

Please visit our web pages on fees and funding for more information.

Additional Costs

In addition to your tuition costs, you can also expect to pay for:

  • Books if you choose to buy your own copies 
  • Clothing for optional course related events and competitions 
  • Library fees and fines 
  • Personal photocopies and/or binding costs 
  • Printing course handouts 
  • Society membership fees
  • Stationery
  • Graduation costs
  • Travel costs for travel around London and between campuses 

Funding

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