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Course content

The MA in Healthcare Ethics & Law course aims to provide the highest quality of training in health care ethics and health care law in a flexible and interdisciplinary way. There is an emphasis on the application of bioethical and legal theory to real world scenarios, thus catering to the practical needs of health care and legal professionals and those in related fields. Students gain an expert knowledge and understanding of bioethical and medico-legal theories, and the skills needed to apply them to real world scenarios in a diverse range of contexts. They will also develop the ethical and medico-legal knowledge and research skills required for writing a Masters-level dissertation, and will be well prepared for further research if they so desire.

You study a wide variety of ethical and legal subjects including autonomy, consent, refusal of treatment, confidentiality, the moral status of the foetus, resource allocation, genetic testing, HIV testing, medical malpractice, clinical negligence, organ and tissue transplantation, fertility treatment, genetic manipulation, research ethics, stem cell research and euthanasia.

Teaching and learning

Teaching tends to defy the traditional boundaries associated with lectures and seminars. Generally, each class in a course unit has a duration of 2 or 3 hours per week, and is split roughly equally between a formal, didactic period and a structured discussion period (most often based on the so-called challenge-response model). Nevertheless, each class is considered a seminar or lecture, and attendance of all classes of a course unit for which a student is enrolled is thus compulsory . For course units of 15 credit value there will generally be 15 hours of face-to-face teaching throughout the semester in which the unit is delivered, and twice that amount for 30 credit units.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment of all taught course units (to a total of 120 credits) is by assessed coursework in the form of essays of 4,000 words per 15 credit course unit and up to 7,000 words for the two 30 credit core course units. In addition, students who wish to complete the MA must submit a 12,000 to 15,000 word dissertation by independent research (60 credits); no dissertation is required for the PGDip or PGCert. Part-time students undertake a supervised dissertation in the summer months of year two. Please note that the part-time students can extend their registration for extra 3 months to submit their dissertations in December of their second year, instead of September (you will be advised of the exact date on the second year of the course).

Those who do not successfully complete the MA you may be considered for the award of the Postgraduate Diploma. 

Those who do not successfully complete the Postgraduate Diploma may be considered for the award of the Postgraduate Certificate.

The awards of the MA or Postgraduate Diploma are classified according to Pass/Merit/Distinction. The Postgraduate Certificate is awarded unclassified.

Course unit details

Students will be required to complete 180 credits: 120 credits comprised of taught course units (each of 15 or 30 credits value), and an independent research element of the course worth 60 credits by way of a Masters dissertation of between 12,000 and 15,000 words, which is undertaken over the summer months of the course. The dissertation should be predominantly law-based.

On the full time course, the 120 taught credits can be split in one of two ways: (1) 60 credits in each of the two semesters; or (2) 75 credits in semester one and 45 credits in semester two.

Students registered on the MA in Healthcare Ethics and Law would need to select a majority of their optional courses from the 'ethics' list (Ethics, Genetics and Genomics; Research Ethics). Global Health Law and Bioethics can count as an ethics or law course.

Details of all current course units available in the School of Law can be found on the Faculty of Humanities website.

Scholarships and bursaries

The School is offering a number of awards for students applying for masters study. To find out more please visit our  Master's funding opportunity search page .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: 

Career opportunities

Successful graduates are able to progress within a wide variety of roles in both medical, legal and ethical fields. Graduates from previous years have, for example, proceeded to specialise in medico-legal practice and academic careers, and the degrees have enhanced the careers of healthcare professionals.

Visit the Healthcare Ethics and Law (MA/PGDip) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!




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Recipient: University of Manchester

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