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Bioethics and Medical Law - MA


Course Description

Individuals and institutions in healthcare are increasingly called to account for their decisions.

Bioethics is relevant to all our lives. Even if we never work in healthcare it touches us when we are most vulnerable - when we or those we care for are unwell.

Whether assisted dying, stem cell therapies or three-parent IVF, bioethics is also often in the news and having a greater understanding of the issues involved can enable more in-depth public engagement.

Reflection on the ethical principles that underlie medical and allied practice is an important part of continuing career development for healthcare professionals. Almost every day, it seems some new ethical dilemma appears in the news; whether to do with stem cell research, assisted suicide, resource allocation, nanotechnologies, human cloning or health and climate change.

Why St Mary's?

It is often said, "bioethics is moral philosophy done badly".

At St Mary's our multidisciplinary team of ethics experts with backgrounds in law, medicine, philosophy and theology ensure that every student has a chance to gain a thorough understanding of the grounding of ethical principles and their application.

The success of our students - in completing PhDs, getting papers published and advancing their careers in biomedical ethics and related fields - bears out the effectiveness of this approach.

Please note: this programme is subject to revalidation.

Course Content

[What you will study
The MA in Bioethics and Medical Law is offered both part-time (normally over two or three years) and full-time (over one year). In the onsite mode of delivery, teaching is conducted through evening seminars. This involves one seminar a week in the case of part-time students and two a week for full-time students. Both onsite and online students attend eight (full time) or four (part-time) Saturday day conferences and participate in online discussions.

The course has one entry point but three possible exit points. After successfully completing 60 credits worth of modules (at least 30 credits of which must be core) it is possible to gain a Postgraduate Certificate in Bioethics and Medical Law . After successfully completing 120 credits, it is possible to gain a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioethics and Medical Law . The full Master's' in Bioethics and Medical Law is awarded on successful completion of 180 credits, that is six taught modules plus a 15,000-word dissertation of the requisite quality.

This structure has the great benefit of flexibility. It may be that a student initially intends to study for a Master's, but his or her circumstances change, making it impossible to complete the full quota of modules. Such a student may still be able to obtain a Certificate or a Diploma, and thus receive credit for the work he or she has done. Another student may wish to start with the Certificate before deciding whether to progress to the Diploma or the Master's.

Programme Structure:

Postgraduate Certificate in Bioethics
Core modules (30 credits each)
› Human Beings and Human Action
› Bioethics and Medical Law

Postgraduate Diploma in Bioethics
Core modules (30 credits each)
› Human Beings and Human Action
› Bioethics and Medical Law

Optional modules (20 credits each)
› Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life
› Ethical Issues at the End of Life
› Patients, Professionals and Society
› Religious Bioethics

MA in Bioethics
Compulsory modules
› Human Beings and Human Action (30 credits)
› Bioethics and Medical Law (30 credits)
› Research Methods and Dissertation (60 credits)

Optional modules (20 credits each)
› Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life
› Ethical Issues at the End of Life
› Patients, Professionals and Society
› Religious Bioethics

Career Prospects

Our students find the course not only interesting in itself, but also a unique distinguishing asset when applying for jobs in medicine, nursing and allied health care professions as well as in education and law.

The study of a contemporary and universally relevant subject such as medical ethics and law is an excellent preparation for any profession that requires graduates with high levels of human understanding, critical skills and knowledge of current affairs.

Institutions are increasingly being called to account for their decisions and procedures, and reflection on the ethical principles that underlie practice is an important part of continuing professional development for healthcare professionals. An MA in Bioethics and Medical Law is therefore a very flexible and useful qualification to have.

The MA also provides strong foundation for those wishing to pursue further postgraduate research at PhD level. Previous MA graduates have gone on to study for doctorates at St Mary’s and other universities in the UK and internationally. Several past students are currently on the national bioethics bodies for their home countries.

Visit the Bioethics and Medical Law - MA page on the St Mary’s University, Twickenham website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Rebecca Brione

I decided to study the Bioethics course as a way of bringing together my interests in science, medicine, public policy and the law, and broadening my analytical skills and academic expertise. I now have a much stronger philosophical basis from which to construct sound arguments.

The range of students and staff provides both for stimulating debate but also valuable challenge to long-held views, forcing students to justify and think through their views and defend them against arguments that they might otherwise not encounter.

Excellent support from the course director and lecturers, both on the content and requirements of the course, but also opportunities to develop my academic profile and contribute to the wider literature in my area of interest. They also provided numerous references for grants, scholarships etc for which I am very grateful!

The flexible combination of part time distance learning, meaning that I could fit around work and family.


Scholarships

Entry Requirements

Students are normally required to have a 2:1 degree from a UK university or equivalent, in a relevant subject at honours level, or a professional qualification in teaching, medicine or law. Medical students can also take the full-time MA programme as an intercalated option during their studies usually in their third of fourth year of training. Students without such qualifications may be admitted provided that they can satisfy the Programme Director that they have sufficient experience of and aptitude for academic study for Master's Level. Such applicants will be required to provide a portfolio of suitable work and experience.

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Recipient: St Mary’s University, Twickenham

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