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LAW3024 : Medicine, Law and Bioethics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ilke Turkmendag
  • Lecturer: Dr Nigel Cooper
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 160 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to foster an understanding of medical, legal and ethical issues affecting medical practice the influence of each discipline on the other. It examines the relationship between law, medicine, and bioethics exploring how these disciplines influence each other in the medico-legal context. As such, there are two streams to the course: a legal (including an introduction to bioethics) and a medical stream.

The legal stream accounts for two thirds of the course and comprises of six topics within the broader theme of justice, capacity, consent, and autonomy. These lectures will be delivered by Dr Ilke Turkmendag. The topics include introduction to Medical Law and Bioethics; Resource Allocation in the National Health Service and its Implications for Decision-making; Access to Fertility Treatment and Donor Conception; Abortion; Surrogacy; and New Genetics (embryo selection, mitochondrial replacement and human genome editing).

The module explores the relationship between law, medicine and ethics in medico-legal decision-making and the regulation of this decision-making process. It examines the body of laws concerning the rights and responsibilities of medical professionals and their patients in a number of specific areas. It highlights the ethical dilemmas which practitioners, the executive and other policy makers, the legislature and the judiciary face and explores the role of law in resolving these issues.

The medical stream makes up one third of the course and will be delivered by Dr Nigel Cooper (Forensic Pathologist). This branch will introduce the necessary basic medical knowledge and goes on to consider forensic medicine, extending to interpretation of injuries and explanation of causes of death in both natural and other circumstances. There will also be a workshop in the medical school during which models and specimens will be used to help explain the two most complex areas of the course; namely the effects of injury and head injuries.

Outline Of Syllabus

Legal stream:

*Introduction to Medical Law and Bioethics
*Allocation of Resources in NHS and Legal Challenges to Rationing of Health Care Resources
*Fertility treatment and Donor Conception
*New Genetics

Medical Stream:
*Skin Injuries – in assaults, accidents and self-infliction. 2
*Injuries to different regions of the body 2
*The Effects of Injury 2
*Cars and Firearms 2
*Sexual Offences/Child Abuse 2
*Heat, Fire and Electricity 2
*Asphyxia – suffocation, strangulation etc. 2
*Drugs and Alcohol – as relevant to criminal law 2
*Suspicious Death – investigation with an emphasis on the limitations of medical science. 2

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:002 hour long PIP revision session to revisit the legal stream and prepare students for the assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00PIP lectures on substantive class content. (FLEX – could be moved to synchronous or non-synchronous on-line material)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1109:40109:40Reading, seminar preparation and other independent learning
Guided Independent StudySkills practice100:152:3010 Multiple Choice Quizzes allow students to self-test understanding of factual module content and to receive immediate feedback.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:001 hour PIP seminars (3 legal stream and 1 medicine workshop) (FLEX: Could be delivered online)
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities100:050:50Use of discussion boards.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time11:001:00One-hour long online Q&A session placed throughout the module in order to allow for all students to able to ask questions regarding substantive module content.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures: The use of lecturing as the primary mode of teaching is justified by the technical nature of the subject and the broad range of material covered within law, policy, ethics, and other literature. Lectures are important in introducing the subject areas, complex moral theories and legal concepts, provide the essential aspects of the topic including an introduction to the academic debate surrounding the topic in order to give students a focus in their reading, provide the points of reference and initiate a critical perspective for further development by each student during independent study. There will be 22 one-hour lectures.

Seminars/workshops: These are student-led activities. There will be 3 seminars in legal stream and 1 workshop in medical stream. These will provide opportunity for interaction, questions and answers, and exam preparation. The seminars and workshop serve to provide learning opportunities for students to develop the subject specific and cognitive skills, particularly knowledge synthesis and problem-solving skills. There will be four one-hour small group classes (totalling four student activity hours), which will cover the four areas: ‘Bioethics, Consent and Capacity’; ‘Allocation of Resources’; ‘Human Reproduction and the New Genetics’, along with a workshop in medicine (this a 1 hour workshop on forensics). These classes will meet the knowledge and cognitive skills outcomes.

Structured guided learning: There will be 10 Multiple Choice Quizzes that students need to complete throughout the year. These are also treated as non-weighted formative assessment. The MCQs can be completed in up to 15 minutes. These MCQs will provide students with an opportunity to test their understanding of the content of the course with the provision of immediate formative feedback.

Online revision sessions: A two-hour long revision sessions to revisit the legal stream and prepare students for the assessment.

Online Q&A session: This surgery hour will be used to answer student questions (especially that were raised on the discussion boards) and give feedback.

Structured Research and Reading Activities: Guided activities will enhance student learning through the use of discussion boards. Students will be provided with questions raised on discussion boards in the past three years. They will work on the answers in their own time both to enhance their learning and for exam preparation. The students should expect to spend half an hour per semester.

Directed research and reading: It takes the form of directed study based on essential and recommended reading for the lecture topics in preparation for seminars (108 hours), as well as independent research to develop depth of knowledge and to enhance critical writing skills in preparing for the assessed coursework and examination (60 hours).

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination1352A100Inspera Digital Exam. Three questions from six. One compulsory from part A (medicine), two from part B (law).
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Written exerciseM10 MCQs not weighted, but students required to complete as component of module
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative assessment is provided in the form of 10 MCQs that are structured around the lecture material and small-group classes, allowing students to test their knowledge of the law. These are non-weighted, and the number of correctly answered questions does not count to the final grade, but they are important for skill development. Overall, MCQ are as form of guided learning activity.

Summative assessment is a timed (135 minutes) digital written exam by the end of second semester. Students will be required to answer three questions in total from a choice of six: one from the medical stream from a choice of two, and two from the legal stream from a choice of four. The medium is particularly suitable for assessing problem solving skills and allows students to demonstrate intended learning outcomes across a broad range of topics within the syllabus. Compared to home exams, having timed, invigilated exam will reduce the cheating (especially for medicine questions). Sit-in exam will also enable the teaching team to assess student’s problem-solving skills which inherently requires a time limit.

Digital exam is preferred as it eliminates time and effort deciphering poor handwriting.

Reading Lists