MEDICAL LAW I - 2025/6

Module code: LAW3089

Module Overview

This module looks at key issues in medical law and ethics throughout the life course.

It begins by linking law with ethics and explaining the tensions between legal, ethical and professional approaches to healthcare-related issues.

In the first two weeks, students consider the underpinning topics of medical ethical principles, the nature of medical law, the legal structure of the NHS and the challenges of healthcare allocation decisions.

Students then address the issues of consent, capacity and information, with an in depth study of the Mental Capacity Act and its relevance to treatment decisions by competent adults, adults who lack capacity, adults whose capacity fluctuates and patients under the age of 18.

These introductory topics underpin consideration of the topics covered in the second half of the semester. Cases and principles introduced in the first half of the module are connected with the topics covered in the second half of the module.

The second half of the module looks at public health, the beginnings of life, definitions of ‘life’ and ‘death’ and at end-of-life decisions. Precise topics reflect current events, new case law and emerging areas of legal, ethical or academic debate. For example, students may consider communicable diseases, conception, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, palliative care and assisted dying.

At the end of the module, students are given the opportunity to consolidate their learning and research by applying it to real life cases and created scenarios. Students are encouraged to debate and discuss so that they are exposed to a wide variety of perspectives and have the confidence to challenge their presuppositions.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

PETERS Katy (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 75

Lecture Hours: 22

Seminar Hours: 2

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 25

Captured Content: 20

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

N/A

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Learning is a student centred process and students will need to undertake a considerable amount of individual reading and research.  Teaching will be provided by a combination of online lectures, in-person tutorials and additional online materials. 

Lectures will provide a structured outline and an introductory critique of topics and concepts. Online content (including lecture recordings) will be uploaded to ‘Course Materials’ on SurreyLearn and grouped by topic.

Tutorials will focus on discussion of selected topics and concepts, whilst utilising problem solving techniques. Tutorial questions will be set out in the Tutorial Handbook.

In law modules, because of the discursive and argumentative nature of the subject, the captured content released to students will primarily consist of lecture slides and other digital content concerning lecture material.

 

The Module syllabus comprises the following topics:


  • Linking Law & Ethics (Moral Deliberations, Professional Standards and Dilemmas)




  • Allocation of Healthcare Resources (Choice and Rationing)




  • Treatment Decisions (Consent, Capacity & Information)




  • Public Health (Rights and Restrictions)




  • The Beginnings of Life (Conception, Contraception & Sterilisation)




  • ‘Life’ and ‘Death’ (Abortion)




  • The End of Life (Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia)



The following table shows, as an indication only, the content of Lectures by week together with the positioning of - and topics for - each tutorial.





 

Week

 


 

Lecture (and any additional online material)


 

Tutorial




1


Linking Law with Ethics

 


 




2


The NHS and Resource Allocation

 


 




3


Treatment Decisions I: Capacity & Consent

 


 




4


Treatment Decisions II: Informed decisions

 


Healthcare Allocation Decisions




5


Public Health & Individual Liberty

 


Capacity & Consent




6


The Beginnings of Life: Conception & Control

 


Public Health




7


‘Life’ and ‘Death’: The Abortion Debate


NO Tutorial (Reading Week)

Online Formative Assessment

 




8


Dying I: Euthanasia

 


Conception & Control




9


Dying II:  Assisted Suicide

 


The Abortion Debate




10


Consolidation: Formative Feedback & Revision

 


Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide




11


Consolidation & Revision (Drop-in Q&A Session)


 





 

Students will be expected to attend BOTH the in-person lectures and the in-person tutorials and to read/view any additional online materials.

Students will be expected to prepare fully for tutorials to participate and answer questions on the topic. 

The tutorial sessions will be where student knowledge and understanding of the topic is discussed in detail, with opportunities for feedback.

 

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online 4 HOUR ONLINE EXAM 100

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

The assessment for this module (LAW3089) is by a 4 hour, online, open-book, examination weighted at 100% of the overall mark for the Module.  Students will be required to answer 2 questions (one essay and one problem) from a 4 question paper.

A specimen paper will be posted to SurreyLearn as part of the materials for consolidation and revision.  Further specimen past papers are available via the Library.

Students will be able to obtain feedback and ask questions during the online live lectures and tutorial discussions each week.

An online formative assessment will take place in Week 7 which will be an opportunity to obtain individual feedback.

In addition to feedback from the formative assessment and during tutorials, tutors will have Student Hours each week when students are welcome to raise any questions or concerns. There will also be time for questions during and after lectures each week.

Consolidation and revision sessions at the end of the course will focus on formative feed-back and revision; with a further opportunity for questions.

There will be a drop-in Revision Clinic in January; immediately before the exam period.

During lectures, students will be encouraged to participate in discussions about the legal principles being introduced and their application to legal cases, news stories and created scenarios

 

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • One online, open book examination during the Semester 1 exam period.



The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate, in accordance with the learning outcomes, their acquired knowledge, critical awareness of the key principles and policies studied in this Module, their ability to evaluate and also to apply their acquired knowledge and critical awareness to the resolution of hypothetical legal problems.
Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • 4 hour online exam during the exam period for Semester 1 which will require the students to answer two questions comprising one essay and one problem.



Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive verbal feedback on their performance during tutorials. In addition they will undertake a written formative assessment, during Semester 1, on which they will receive individual written feedback and group verbal feedback. This written formative assessment will be designed to give the students practice in writing an answer to either an essay or problem question which is similar in style to what they can expect in their summative assessment.

The assessment method for each module has been selected to test a variety of key skills, competencies and outcomes as required by QAA. As such, assessment method cannot be changed. Reasonable adjustment may be made on application subject to ALS approval AND only where such adjustment still allows for the required skills, key competencies and outcomes to be assessed at an equivalent level.

Module aims

  • To provide students with an understanding of the way in which medical law operates in the UK, and how it compares to other jurisdictions where appropriate
  • To provide students with an opportunity to explore ideas from differing areas of law and bring them together in the context of healthcare decision-making
  • To critically assess the ethical dilemmas in medical law in relation to all the substantive areas of law and practice studied
  • To consider the professional guidance in relation to all the substantive areas of study and how this relates to the legal and ethical issues
  • To consider the contexts within which decisions about medical and health care are taken and how these relate to the legal and ethical issues
  • To identify and critically assess the law regulating the allocation of healthcare resources, consent to treatment, capacity to consent and public health
  • To identify and critically assess the law regulating conception, control of fertility, abortion and end of life decision-making
  • To consider and critically analyse the legal and ethical dilemmas in allocation of healthcare resources, consent to treatment, capacity to consent and public health
  • To identify and critically analyse the legal and ethical dilemmas in conception, control of fertility, abortion and end of life decision-making
  • To critically evaluate differing definitions of life and death in the context of healthcare-related law and ethics

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Critically evaluate the central principles, concepts and history of the areas of Medical law, ethics and the principles of professional practice studied in this Module, and the relationship between them, with particular emphasis of the tensions which emerge KCT
002 Critically analyse and evaluate the content of the legal areas as studied in this Module and the ethical dilemmas posed in relation to them with a particular ability to analyse the content of the law in areas where there is tension or a lack of clarity in light of the ethical and professional debate KCT
003 Critically engage with and evaluate the sources of Medical law, including common law, statute, the law of the EU and ECHR, and international law and the relationship between them KCT
004 Critically engage with the scholarly debate on the ethics which underpin the areas of Medical law studied in this Module KCT
005 Critically engage in discussions regarding competing policy concerns and the ethical and professional values which inform and develop the areas of Medical law studied in this Module, and the relationship between them, in order to be able to propose and defend solutions KCPT
006 Critically engage in scholarly debate regarding medical law and ethics (in relation to the areas studied in this Module), critically analysing the major tendencies within legal scholarship and the relationship between them KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

  The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  • Introduce topics, with particular emphasis on key areas of the syllabus, in lectures - using appropriate visual aids together with other with supporting materials (e.g. news clips)

  • Facilitate a more detailed study of the syllabus through independent study and by preparation of focused tutorial questions

  • Enhance student’s understanding and critical awareness by group discussion in lectures and tutorials

  • Facilitate student’s revision of key areas of law and exam preparation by the submission of written formative coursework (see below) and by interactive revision lectures towards to the end of Semester 1



 

The learning and teaching methods include:

Semester 1

Lectures (2 hours per week x 11 weeks)

Tutorials (1 hour per week x 6 weeks)

Seminars (2 hours prior to examination period)

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: LAW3089

Other information

  • This module will address the university’s pillars:-
  • Employability: Students will be encouraged to develop current awareness & the ability to discuss how news stories relate to the practical application of the law. The practice experience of the module lecturer will bring a professional perspective to the application of academic legal principles; for example, encouraging students to think about how a case might be presented in court, or the pressures which might face a clinician working in a busy hospital environment. The legal research, reading and analysis skills which students develop during the course are transferable skills which are greatly valued by prospective employers and placement providers. The ability to challenge arguments, as well as to cite cases/papers in support encourages students to think creatively.
  • Global & Cultural Capabilities: Students will be able to participate in Socratic-style discussions about the tensions between ethical, professional and legal principles. They are encouraged to consider how different cultural and religious perspectives may alter interpretation of legal frameworks or definitions (for example, in relation to end-of-life care or abortion). Care has been taken to ensure that both Western and non-Western ethical schools of thought are considered.
  • Digital Capabilities: Students will have access to core text through the BibliU platform and will be expected to make use of online databases (including the library’s SurreySearch) to source case law and academic articles as part of their legal research. Links to other online quizzes, case studies and materials are made available through SurreyLearn. The assessment will be an online examination which enables students to make use of similarity checkers and to prepare their work under timed conditions but with access to their consolidated materials. This reflects the way in which tasks need to be carried out in a work environment.
  • Sustainability: Students are encouraged to think about the purpose and efficacy of certain areas of law – for example, with regard to mental capacity, abortion and end-of-life care. They are also encouraged to consider how the law can be used as a tool to frame, address and challenge health inequalities in society. Students are given an opportunity to understand how topics such as public health and resource allocation are linked to issues of national and global sustainability, such as environment, access to healthcare and climate change.
  • Resourcefulness & Resilience: Students are encouraged to think about how ‘the law’ works in the context of fluid, real-life situations. The course involves a substantial amount of independent reading and research. Students are expected to develop their reading beyond the reading list suggestions and to focus their consolidation to identify links between the topics.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Law with International Relations LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with Criminology LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Law and Technology Pathway) LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Philosophy, Politics and Law Pathway) LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Law, Environment and Sustainability Pathway) LLB (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.