Medical Ethics and Law - MA
- Mode of study
- Full time, Part time
- Entry months
- Duration of Study
- One year full-time, two years part-time, up to five years modular.
- Subject Area
- Ethics, Law
- FEES (2022/23 academic year)
- UK - FT £7,600, PT Y1 £5320, Y2 £2280
- International - £16,800
Advances in biomedical technology, changing moral attitudes and developments in the law combine to generate difficult ethical, legal, policy challenges for those involved in the delivery of healthcare. This programme will provide an opportunity for you to gain a deeper and more systematic understanding of these issues and to explore the moral problems faced by healthcare practitioners as well as those involved in healthcare management and policy.
Neonatal Registrar, Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Ethics and Law
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it a very valuable experience which I hope will make me a better doctor. "
Beverley Bostock, MA in Medical Ethics and Law, 2017
"The course was flexible to fit in with work and the quality of the teaching staff was superb "
About the course
We welcome applications from people with a professional or other serious interest in Medical Ethics and Law, including (but not limited to) doctors, nurses, lawyers, health care managers, intercalating medical students, radiographers, chaplains, charity and voluntary workers, social workers, hospice directors, medical and pharmaceutical researchers, philosophers, dentists, veterinary practitioners and health care educators. While the programme is designed to be accessible to healthcare professionals in full-time work, it is open to anyone who is suitably qualified and who can demonstrate sufficient academic aptitude. The programme has increasingly attracted recent graduates who wish either to build on previous study in law or ethics or to develop their studies in a new direction. It can provide a foundation for study at doctoral level for those interested in doing so.
Undertaking an MA in ethics will not give you a list of answers to moral problems. The moral problems worth looking at are all hard – there are no easy answers. What our programme can do is help you to work out answers for yourself, answers that are worth having because they are based on the best ethical thinking and reasoning we can manage, answers you can justify to yourself and others. The programme will introduce you to a variety of rival moral theories - all of which have their strengths and their weaknesses - as well as providing you with a range of analytical tools with which to assess different ethical and legal claims. It will also help you to communicate ethical and legal arguments to others in a clearer way.
Although ethical issues are rarely out of the headlines, much public ‘debate' about ethics in the media is (with occasional honourable exceptions) of very poor quality. It often consists of 'sound-bite' rhetorical assertions followed by counter-assertions, without any real examination of the ethical reasons for either position. Our courses will help you to construct, categorise and criticise different ethical arguments and to spot common fallacies. As well as critiquing others' arguments you will have plenty of opportunity to practise putting forward your own arguments in classroom discussion as well as in your written assessments. Ethics at Keele is a participatory activity, not a spectator sport!
HOW THE COURSE IS TAUGHT:
The MA in Medical Ethics and Law consists of four 30-credit taught modules and a 60-credit dissertation.
Teaching for the four taught modules is delivered in short intense blocks, enabling those in full-time employment to fit part-time study around the demands of their work wherever they are based. Each student is assigned a personal supervisor whom they can contact for help or advice at any time during the course.
Part-time students take the four taught modules in year 1 and the dissertation in year 2. The part time programme requires only 13 days attendance in year 1 (an Induction Day and four 3-day intensive teaching blocks) and two days in Year 2 ( a Research Methods Study Day in October and a Presentations Workshop in March). Many second year students find it useful to come to Keele more frequently, to meet their supervisors, attend talks by visiting speakers, and use other university facilities. Others, especially those who live some distance away, prefer to keep in touch via email or phone, or use a combination of methods.
Full-time students including intercalating medical students complete the whole programme in one year, writing the dissertation alongside the taught modules.
Modular students can spread the taught modules over up to four years, taking the dissertation in the fifth year. The Semester 1 modules must normally be completed before the Semester 2 modules.
Students who do not wish to complete the entire MA programme may exit after completing the taught modules. Successful completion of all four taught modules (120 credits) leads to the award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Ethics and Law; while successful completion any two taught modules (60 credits) leads to the award of a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Ethics and Law.
We regard high levels of student participation in discussion as particularly important for teaching and learning in this area, and employ teaching techniques which encourage this wherever possible. Students come from a wide range of backgrounds and report that meeting and exchanging ideas with others who work in different fields and in different parts of the country is one of the major benefits of the course.
Core Taught Modules
MODULE 1: MORAL THEORY AND MEDICAL ETHICS (30 CREDITS)
This module will equip you with a knowledge of key ethical theories, frameworks and principles that inform academic debates in medical and healthcare ethics, and will enable you to use these tools to analyse practical moral problems in medicine and healthcare. It will also provide you with a practical understanding of the norms and conventions of academic argument and writing in applied ethics.
Topics covered typically include:
- virtue ethics
- autonomy and paternalism
- the ethical foundations of consent
- liberty and toleration
- evaluating and constructing ethical arguments
- introduction to the library and electronic resources
- how to write essays in ethics
Research Methods Workshop (year 2 and full-time only)
MODULE 2: PRINCIPLES OF MEDICAL LAW (30 CREDITS)
You will gain knowledge of key principles, cases and statutes in medical law. This will enable you to critique aspects of medical law and to apply your knowledge of the law to practices in medicine and healthcare. It will also provide you with a practical understanding of the norms and conventions of academic argument and writing in medical law.
Topics covered typically include:
- introduction to law
- use of cases and statutes
- healthcare law and the concept of health
- regulation and self-regulation in the healthcare system
- law and consent
- professional negligence
- mental health law
- confidentiality and the law
- the relationship between law and morality
- writing law essays
- legal arguments and referencing
MODULE 3: LIFE, DEATH AND THE HUMAN BODY - SEMESTER 2 (30 CREDITS)
This module enables students to extend their knowledge of ethical and legal concepts, principles and theories, especially those relating to the moral and legal status of persons and human bodies and the value and boundaries of human life, and to apply such principles to practical issues in healthcare and medicine including intervention at the beginning and end of life and modification of the human body.
Topics covered typically include:
- abortion: ethical and legal issues
- regulating reproduction
- selective reproduction and saviour siblings
- euthanasia: ethical issues
- death, dying and the law
- advance directives
- post mortem organ transplant
- treatment of intersex children
- transgender, medicine and the law
- assignment guidance and feedback
MODULE 4: HEALTHCARE, JUSTICE AND SOCIETY (SEMESTER 2, 30 CREDITS)
This module enables students to apply and extend their knowledge of ethical and legal concepts, principles and theories in the context of practical issues in healthcare affecting the relations between healthcare practitioners, patients and wider society, and to acquire knowledge and critical understanding of a range of contemporary ethical and legal controversies surrounding a range of such issues.
Topics covered typically include:
- biomedical research ethics and law
- ethical issues in bio-banking
- ethical issues in stem cell policy
- criminal regulation of medicine
- conscientious objection in healthcare
- healthcare and international law
- ethics and law of healthcare resource allocation.
The module also includes guidance for part-time students on progression to the dissertation stage.
DISSERTATION (60 CREDITS)
The dissertation offers the opportunity to develop basic research skills to the level at which a competent piece of work at Masters level can be undertaken.
You will choose your dissertation topic, which usually falls within the broad area of the ethics of cancer and palliative care. Some may start the course with a clear idea about what they want to write about - often an ethical issue from within their own practice - but others find and develop particular interests as the course progresses.
Recent dissertation topics have included:
- "Do Not Resuscitate" orders;
- Patient autonomy and end-of-life decisions;
- Withdrawal of life-prolonging treatment;
- Futility and ethical issues;
- Truth telling and deception
- Terminal sedation;
- Euthanasia / assisting in bringing about death;
- Concepts of a good death;
- The doctrine of double effect;
- The acts/omissions doctrine;
- Screening programmes;
- Resource allocation and palliative care;
- Ethical issues in considering faith and spirituality
If there is a particular area you wish to write about, and would like to discuss this prior to applying for the course, please contact us.
Each of the four taught modules is assessed through a 5,000-word essay. The essay question is chosen from a list reflecting the main themes of the module, enabling you to focus on the issues that are most interestingor relevant to your work. For each essay, you may submit a plan on which feedback is provided. In addition, you will receive written feedback on each of your essays. This approach aims at helping you to improve your performance as you progress through the programme.
For the dissertation module, you will be allocated a supervisor to provide support and advice during the writing process, and attend a one-day Research Methods Workshop in Semester 1.
The MA in Medical Ethics and Law is open to graduates with a first or second class honours degree in a relevant subject such as medicine, nursing, law, philosophy or medical sciences, or an international equivalent.
We will also consider applicants with equivalent work experience and/or professional qualifications in healthcare.
English Language Entry Requirement for International Students
IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component. The University also accepts a range of internationally recognised English tests.
Students who have graduated from a country where English is the first language and the degree was taught and assessed in English are not normally required to take an IELTS or other English language test.
If you do not meet the English language requirements, the University offers a range of English language preparation programmes to help you reach the required level of English.
During your degree programme you can study additional English language courses. This means you can continue to improve your English language skills and gain a higher level of English.
Intercalating Medical Students
We welcome applications from undergraduate medical students who have the option to take an intercalated year. To take the MA in Medical Ethics and Law as an intercalated year, you must normally have completed the fourth year of a medical degree. To ensure the course is completed within one year, you must study the MA in Medical Ethics and Law as a full time student.
Keele University is located on a beautiful campus and has all the facilities of a small town. Student accommodation, shops, restaurants and cafes are all within walking distance of the teaching buildings. This is a very cost effective way to live and to reduce your living costs.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND FUNDING
We are committed to rewarding excellence and potential. Please visit our bursaries and scholarships webpages for more information.
It's important to plan carefully for your funding before you start your course. Please be aware that not all postgraduate courses are eligible for the UK government postgraduate loans and, in this case, you would be expected to source alternative funding yourself. If you need support researching your funding options, please contact our Financial Support Team.
This course is led by: Dr Kirsty Moreton
The MA in Medical Ethics and Law is run by the Centre for Professional Ethics and School of Law at Keele University. It is one of England’s longest established master’s programmes in this subject area, having run continuously since 1987. Teaching sessions are led by a variety of experienced authorities in their field. Therefore, the student receives a wide knowledge base from academics and practising experts. Staff who teach on the programme are active researchers in medical ethics, law and related fields, ensuring that you will receive not only a solid grounding in the essentials of the field but also a familiarity with some of the key debates at the forefront of current research. From time to time, experts from outside Keele are invited to speak on the course; this provides an insight into academic work in healthcare ethics and law taking place in other institutions and professional perspectives. In addition, the Law School hosts a wide range of seminars, workshops and lectures, which students are welcome to attend.
Staff who teach on the programme include:
Core Teaching Team:
Staff who teach on the Programme include:
Teaching Block Dates
Tuesday 27 September 2022
Module 1 - ETH-40044 Moral Theory & Medical Ethics
Wednesday 28 September - Friday 30 September 2022
Dissertation MA Training Day
Wednesday 5 October 2022
Module 2 - ETH-40045 Principles of Medical Law
Wednesday 23 November - Friday 25 November 2022
Module 3 - ETH-40040 Life, Death & the Human Body
Wednesday 18 January - Friday 20 January 2023
Dissertation Presentation Workshop
Tuesday 14 March 2023
Module 4 - ETH-40042 Healthcare, Justice & Society
Wednesday 15 March - Friday 17 March 2023