Advances in biomedical technology, changing moral attitudes, and developments in law, combine to generate difficult ethical, legal, policy challenges for those involved in the delivery of healthcare. This programme provides an opportunity to gain a deeper and more systematic understanding of these issues and to explore the moral problems faced by healthcare professionals and those involve in healthcare management and policy. It also aims to provide a foundation for pursuing further study at doctoral level for those interested in doing so.
Applications are welcome from people with a professional or other serious interest in Medical Ethics and Law, including (but not limited to) doctors, nurses, health care managers, intercalating medical students, radiographers, chaplains, charity and voluntary workers, social workers, hospice directors, medical and pharmaceutical researchers, dentists, veterinary practitioners and health care educators. While the programme is primarily aimed at healthcare professionals, it is open to anyone who is suitably qualified and who can demonstrate sufficient academic aptitude.
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 first been presented in 1987.
The programme is available part-time, full-time, by modular study, and by intercalation within a medical degree. It is taught in short, intensive blocks to make it accessible to those in full-time employment and from across the country and beyond.
Teaching staff also work at the forefront of research in medical ethics, which helps to give the course a contemporary edge. In the recent 2014 REF, staff from Keele's Healthcare Law and Bioethics cluster who teach on the MA were part of Keele's Philosophy submission, which was ranked first in the country for its Impact work. The impact submission was based on staff's work in the field of Biomedical ethics, with 80% of this work judged as being world-leading and the remaining 20% as being of internationally excellent.
This course aims to deepen students’ understanding of health care ethics and law, and to enhance their ability to think systematically about the moral and legal issues that health care professionals may face in the course of their work. It also aims to provide a foundation for pursuing further 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. What our courses can do is help you to work out answers for yourself, answers that are worth having because they’re based on the best ethical thinking and reasoning we can manage, answers you can justify, to yourself and others. The MA course will give you an introduction to a number of different (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. Our courses will help you to construct, categorise and criticise different ethical arguments and to spot common fallacies. Ethics at Keele is a participatory activity, not a spectator sport!
Teaching & Assessment
Teaching for the four taught modules is delivered in short intense blocks, enabling those in full-time employment to do the course part-time and to fit it around the demands of their work wherever they are based. Each student is assigned a personal supervisor from the outset, whom they can contact for help or advice at any time during the course.
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.
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, Keele's Centre for Law, Ethics and Society hosts a wide range of seminars, workshops and lectures, which students are welcome to attend.
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 students to focus on the issues that are most interesting to them or relevant to their work. For each essay, students submit a plan (required for modules 1 and 2; optional for modules 3 and 4), on which feedback is provided. In addition, students receive written feedback on each of their essays, aimed at helping them to improve their performance as they progress through the programme, and have the opportunity to discuss the feedback with their supervisor.
For the dissertation module, students are allocated a supervisor to provide support and advice during the writing process, and attend a one-day Research Methods Workshop in Semester 1.
Students not living within daily travelling distance of Keele will need to arrange accommodation during the teaching blocks.
Although recommended readings are available in the library or on-line, students may wish to purchase some books for themselves.
We do not anticipate any other additional costs for this postgraduate programme.
Mills & Reeve Dissertation Prize
The Mills & Reeve Dissertation Prize is awarded each year to the student who produces the best dissertation. The winner receives a cash prize of £100 sponsored by the law firm Mills & Reeve, and an invitation to lunch at the firm.