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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 include debates about: consent and those who lack capacity; duties of care relating to treatment and to information disclosure; the treatment of children and adolescents; assisted reproduction and abortion; assisted suicide, euthanasia and end of life decisions; psychiatric ethics and mental health law; organ donation; autonomy and public health; and the allocation of scarce resources.


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 in on legal issues.
  • The courses discuss controversial issues such as euthanasia 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.


Key information

Application status Open

Duration One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Credit value UK 180/ECTS 90

Course intake 38 (FT)

Course leaders

Professor Rosamund Scott and Professor Penney Lewis

Further details

Course contact for further information

Postgraduate Admissions Team, King’s College London Admissions Office

Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 7000 fax: +44 (0)20 7848 7200

Course contact form Postgraduate admissions

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty The Dickson Poon School of Law



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Course detail


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 courses 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.

Further literature

Course format and assessment

You will largely be taught through seminar-style teaching in sessions of two hours per module per week.

Full time students have an average of 6 seminar hours per week. However, this will vary depending on which modules you choose to take and in which semester they are taught. Full time students are expected to spend 32-34 hours engaged in self-study per week.

Part time students have an average of 2-4 hours of seminars per week. They are expected to engage in 14-16 hours of self-study a week.

Contact time is based on 24 academic weeks (typically there is 1 reading week per semester), whereas self-study time is based on 31 academic weeks.

The total notional study hours for the MA are 1800 (10 hours per 1 credit).  Notional study hours comprise formal teaching and learning activities, such as lectures and tutorials, as well as assessments and independent research and study.


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.



Year 1

Courses are divided into modules. All students will normally take modules totalling 180 credits.

Part-time students complete 60 credits of ethics modules in Year 1 and 60 credits of law modules as well as the dissertation in Year 2.

Required Modules
    Courses are divded into modules. All students will normally take modules totalling 180 credits. 
    Students are required to take the following modules:
  • Dissertation in Medical Ethics and Law (60 credits)

  • Medical Law I: Consent, Refusal and Request (20 credits) 

  • Moral Theory and Medical Ethics (20 credits)
Optional Modules

In addition you are required to take 60 credits of Law modules and 60 credits of Ethics modules:

Law modules offered may include:

  • Mental Health Law: The Civil Context (20 credits)         
  • Topics in Medical Law I & II (20 credits each) made up of two five-week blocks; if you decide to take Topics in Medical Law I & II, you would study four five-week blocks; subjects offered may include:             
    • Coroners & Inquests
    • Law at the End of Life
    • Abortion and the Law
    • Assisted Reproductive Technologies
    • Clinical Negligence

 Ethics modules may include:

    • Mental Health Ethics (20 credits)
    • Topics in Medical Ethics I & II (20 credits each) made up of two five-week blocks; if you decide to take Topics in Medical Ethics I & II, you would study four five-week blocks; subjects offered may include:
      • Justice and Resource Allocation 

      • Autonomy and Public Health 

      • Reproductive Ethics 

      • Human Rights and Health

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to- date, innovative and relevant courses of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates or, for the most accurate information, email the Programme Director, Professor Rosamund Scott.

Entry requirements & how to apply

Medical Ethics and Law Entry Requirements
Minimum requirements 2:1 2:1 undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, e.g. law, medicine, philosophy, theology, social science, one of the life sciences, dentistry or nursing studies. 

Alternative qualifications:
Evidence of achievement of an academic level comparable to at least upper second class honours standard through past studies and where previous study, work or experience has made the applicant a suitable candidate, will also be considered.
International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band B Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


Application procedure

Applications must be made online using King’s online application portal apply.kcl.ac.uk and a non-refundable application fee of £70 applies.

Personal statement and supporting information

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

Medical Ethics checklist
Personal Statement Yes

A personal statement is required. This can be entered directly into the online application form (maximum 4,000 characters) or uploaded as an attachment to the online application form (maximum 2 pages). Applicants are required to submit a personal statement, outlining your academic background, reasons for taking the programme and what you hope to gain from it, including any relevant strengths, ambitions or research interests.

Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
Other Optional You may also wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of your application


Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible. Our first application deadline is the 26th March 2021. After this date, the programme will remain open only if places are still available and will be closed as soon as it is full.

For programmes that remain open beyond this date, the final application deadlines for the following fee statuses are listed below:

  • EU or overseas (international) fee status: 30th July 2021
  • Home fee status: 27th August 2021

Please note, you will not be eligible for an application fee refund if you apply after the first application deadline in March, and we are unable to process more offers as places are filled before the final application deadlines above.


Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

Preparation courses

Fees and funding

  • Full time Home fees: £10,500 per year (2021/22)
  • Full time overseas fees: £23,460 per year (2021/22)
  • Part time Home fees: £5,250 per year (2021/22)
  • Part time overseas fees: £11,730 per year (2021/22)

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


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 31st March, payment is due by 30th April 2021.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st April and 30th June, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st July and 31st July, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer on or after 1st August, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer from late August onwards, payment is due within 2 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.

Additional costs/expenses

In addition to the costs above, 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 

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

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.

Career prospects

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. 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.

Career destinations


Blue box with King's College London rankings. Starting with, 7th in the UK for research quality. Followed by, 6th in the UK for research power. Concluding with, 4th among multi-faculty universities for research Impact. The source is research excellence framework 2014

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