Taught course

Medical Law and Ethics

Durham University · Department of Law

Entry requirements

  • A good 2:1 degree (or its equivalent) in a relevant subject (for example law (or in a degree in which law is a major component), anthropology, medicine and allied professions (nursing, pharmacy…), sociology and philosophy
  • Students whose native language is not English must show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 7.0 or higher in IELTS with a minimum of 7.0 in the writing component and a minimum of 6.5 in all other components.
  • Students from EU member states whose native language is not English may show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 102 or higher in TOEFL with a minimum of 27 in the writing component and a minimum of 25 in all other components.

Months of entry


Course content

The Durham LLM in Medical Law and Ethics explores some of the most intellectually challenging and sensitive areas of medical practice and science and, at the same time, develops your legal and ethical knowledge and skills in areas which continue to grow in significance. The course has been developed by specialists in the field who not only deliver the course, they are also involved in setting the legal agenda.

While the course is led by the School of Law, you will have the opportunity to study modules from other departments, ensuring you will gain a broad appreciation of the relevant areas of law and ethics.

You will also benefit from the research strengths and reputation of Durham’s Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences. As a Medical Law and Ethics student you will be invited to become a member of this vibrant team and encouraged to take part in the many activities organised by the Centre.

During the first two terms you will study taught modules selected from a wide variety of topics and then you will complete your studies by writing a dissertation on a medical law-related topic of your choice, under the supervision of a member of staff with expertise in your selected subject area.

Modules delivered by other departments are diverse and include Divergence, Deviance, and Disability in 19th Century Literature, the Anthropology of Global Health and the Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine.

Teaching is a mixture of lectures and smaller, student-led, seminar or tutorial groups, taught by lecturers who are actively researching in the areas that they teach, and the dissertation is undertaken on an independent basis. We anticipate that students attending the course will be drawn from a broad range of countries and disciplines and believe that their diverse academic and professional experiences will enrich the course.

Core modules

Contemporary Issues in Medical Law and Ethics underpins the course and aims to cultivate a critical appreciation of the legal and ethical difficulties raised by modern medical practice. Starting with an introduction to medical ethics, you will consider what it means when we say something is ethical. You will also look at the leading theories on ethics and how they apply to controversial issues in medical practice. This will be followed by a study of consent, obstetric intervention, medical treatment of children, reproductive genetics and decisions around end-of-life treatment.

Applied Research Methods in Law provides specialised knowledge on the latest research methods and skills used in legal studies as well as an advanced understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and of their relevance for different forms of legal research. The module also creates a framework within which you will be able to critically assess potential research topics and, importantly, where you will be able to design, discuss and develop a detailed research proposal of the appropriate standard for your dissertation.

The Dissertation is based on your particular research interests in an area of Medical Law and Ethics and can be of one of three lengths – 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 words. Depending on the length chosen, the dissertation is equivalent to 2, 2.5 or 3 modules.

The remainder of the course is chosen from an extensive range of optional modules from the School of Law and other departments across the University. Indicative optional modules include:

  • Advanced Issues in Human Rights (Law)
  • Advanced Issues of International Intellectual Property Law (Law)
  • Anthropology of Global Health (Anthropology)
  • Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities (Arts)
  • Contemporary Issues in Biolaw and Bioethics (Law)
  • Divergence, Deviance, and Disability in 19th Century Literature (English)
  • Ethics, Medicine and History (Philosophy)
  • Frontiers in Biolaw (Law)
  • Gender Theory and Feminist Philosophy (Philosophy)
  • Illness as Narrative Practice (English)
  • International Perspectives on Law and Gender (Law)
  • International Protection of Human Rights (Law)
  • Introduction to Intellectual Property Law (Law)
  • Medical Law and Ethics (Law)
  • Neurodiversity and the Humanities (English)
  • Phenomenology and The Sciences of Mind (Philosophy)
  • Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine (Philosophy)
  • Protection of Human Rights in Europe (Law)
  • Risk, Science and Communication (Geography)
  • Science and The Enlightenment (Philosophy)
  • Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience (Geography)
  • Social Policy and Society (Sociology)
  • Society, Health and Wellbeing (Anthropology)

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For more information see the course listing

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • LLM
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details