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Mental Health, Ethics and Law MSc

Course Description

The programme is delivered by two internationally recognised centres of excellence and provides an integrated, strongly interdisciplinary, education in mental health, ethics and law. It will equip students to become leaders in healthcare, mental health law or policy.

Key benefits

- In-depth and integrated clinical, philosophical and legal analysis of key issues presented in the field of mental health.

- Supported by the UK's first centre of medical law and ethics (CMLE) and Europe’s largest centre for research and teaching in psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience (IoPPN).

- Located in central London and maintains close links with national and international policy formers and leading legal and clinical practitioner communities.

- Generous scholarships are available to support the brightest and best students.

Visit the website: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/taught-courses/mental-health-ethics-and-law-msc.aspx

Course detail

- Description -

The interface between the law and the mental health disciplines raises fundamental questions concerning our very human nature. Concepts such as autonomy, responsibility, decision making capacity and risk are central and have come under increasing scrutiny in the literature. While each discipline approaches the debate from its own perspective and understanding of the world, increasingly connections have been made and relationships recognised. At a theoretical level this has led to a growing and vibrant literature. At the level of practice the close interaction between law and psychiatry, which had been evident across the centuries, has become increasingly significant and sensitive. In the context of evolving societal attitudes to mental ill health and disability and the expanding influence of international human rights norms the role of the law is becoming both more complex and more contentious.

Building on the experience gained from working across our disciplinary boundaries we have developed a strongly interdisciplinary programme, designed to investigate the interface between mental health, law and ethics at a theoretical level and to engage directly with the dilemmas and experience of illness encountered in practice. The course will expand students’ understanding, both within and beyond their own disciplines, and will provide them with the skills necessary to analyse and critique current law, practice and policy in relation to mental health.

- Course purpose -

A joint programme between The Dickson Poon School of Law and Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. This integrated MSc is for anyone concerned with mental health who wishes to study the clinical, ethical and legal thinking behind current law, policy and clinical practice. It has been designed for health professionals, lawyers, policy makers, and all those with a relevant first degree who are keen to consider the difficult questions raised by mental ill health and society’s response. Students will be able to study alongside others from a wide range of academic and professional disciplines at the heart of London’s legal and psychiatric world.

- Course format and assessment -

Teaching is predominantly by seminar to encourage active student participation in critical enquiry. Case studies will be held as part of each taught core module.

Full-time students are required to complete the programme over one academic year. Some modules will be assessed by examinations held in January or May of that year, while others will be assessed by coursework. Dissertations are due by late August the same year.

Part-time students are required to complete the programme over two academic years, with dissertations due by late August of the second/final year of study.

Career prospects

Employers value interdisciplinary skills and graduates of MHEL will be able to use the degree for many different career opportunities. These include:

- Leadership roles in relevant policy-related areas including positions in mental health advocacy groups nationally and internationally, professional regulatory organisations and governmental departments in UK and overseas;

- For clinical practitioners, evidence of professional development in order to obtain promotion, or to take their career in a more specialist direction in clinical management, education or research;

- For legal practitioners, opportunities for specialisation in mental health and mental capacity law;

- A stepping stone to a career in clinical psychology or other clinical roles within the NHS or other healthcare settings;

- Possibilities to move into the private sector, into areas such as scientific publishing, human resources, occupational health, management consultancy or roles;

- A stepping stone to purse doctoral-level research (PhD or MD(Res)), including at King's;

- Research students may find academic positions in law schools, health schools and other research centres within a range of humanities departments.

How to apply: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/taught-courses.aspx

About Postgraduate Study at King’s College London:

To study for a postgraduate degree at King’s College London is to study at the city’s most central university and at one of the top 20 universities worldwide (2015/16 QS World Rankings). Graduates will benefit from close connections with the UK’s professional, political, legal, commercial, scientific and cultural life, while the excellent reputation of our MA and MRes programmes ensures our postgraduate alumni are highly sought after by some of the world’s most prestigious employers. We provide graduates with skills that are highly valued in business, government, academia and the professions.

Scholarships & Funding:

All current PGT offer-holders and new PGT applicants are welcome to apply for the scholarships. For more information and to learn how to apply visit: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/pg/funding/sources

Free language tuition with the Modern Language Centre:

If you are studying for any postgraduate taught degree at King’s you can take a module from a choice of over 25 languages without any additional cost. Visit: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/mlc

Visit the Mental Health, Ethics and Law MSc page on the King’s College London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)


"Coming from an undergraduate law degree, it was enlightening to study mental health law alongside psychiatrists and other clinicians who, understanding the clinical realities of caring for the mentally ill, brought a very different perspective to discussions. Given the primacy we accord to equality and human rights, it was fascinating to consider the role of, and justifications for, a separate statutory scheme for the mentally disordered. With this subrogation of the rights of the ‘mentally ill’, questions of diagnosis become crucial, and studying the ethics alongside law illuminated the bases for such diagnosis, and the problems inherent in these judgements."


Entry Requirements

2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualification) in a relevant discipline, e.g. law, medicine, philosophy, psychology, theology, social science, one of the life sciences, or nursing studies. ORA registerable qualification appropriate to the programme in medicine (or international equivalent); or a professional mental health qualification. Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements: View Website

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