Taught course

Mental Health and Law

Queen Mary, University of London · School of Medicine and Dentistry

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a basic degree in a related subject and/or a professional qualification and have worked in the relevant subject area for at least one year. We welcome applications from individuals from diverse backgrounds and career pathways. English language requirements - see QMUL website

Months of entry


Course content

This Mental Health and Law MSc will be suitable for leaders in the field of mental health and law, or those with a strong academic interest in the area. The pathway will focus on the interface between advanced mental health care and the law. More specifically, this pathway will include up to date and practical applications of The Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act; Psychological Processes and Legal Decision Making; Gathering and Giving Evidence: Court Reports and Expert Witness; International Mental Health and Human Rights.

Mental Health and Law is available to study to MSc or PGDip levels.

The MSc programme consists of five modules. Completion of the first four modules is accredited for exit with a PGDip in mental health: Mental Health and Law. Completion of all five modules leads to the MSc award.

In term 1 and 2 students take Module 1- Introductory English Law for Health and Allied Professionals , Module 2- Mental Health Law , Module 3 -Public Mental Health and Comparative Mental Health Systems, and Module 4- Professional Skills in Mental Health Law. In term 3, students

completing the MSc award also take Module 5- Applied Research Methods and undertake a dissertation on an original topic in the field.

Period of Study

FULL TIME: PGDip and MSc options are available full-time and students complete all study components within one academic year.

PART TIME: Part-time MSc students participate in the first four modules in the same way as the full-time students but for part-time students, module five (i.e. the research and dissertation module) can be completed over the second year instead of finishing in the first year, allowing additional time and flexibility for conducting research that needs a longer time-frame and for flexibility to pursue other work or commitments.

The PGDip option is not available for applications to study part-time.

At the discretion of the programme organiser and the examination board, those not completing the programme of study for the Masters or PG Diploma may be eligible for an exit option of a PG Certificate.

Flexible Study

We offer a variety of modes of study including full-time and part-time options, giving students many choices to suit their existing workloads and lifestyles. Part-time study is ideal for those with work or other commitments.


Module 1- Introductory English Law for Health and Allied Professionals

This module is an introduction to the English legal system for healthcare and allied professionals. The module is run intensively as a full-time one week module running in the week before lectures for the other semester one modules starts. It introduces you to basic concepts of law, the court system, the role of precedent in the law, the nature of case law and statute law, and the role of human rights law domestically and in the European and international human rights systems. It is not intended to be a comprehensive introduction to law, but instead will give you the tools to understand how law works in the specific contexts in which mental health law operates.

Module 2- Mental Health Law

The module aims to provide detailed knowledge and understanding of and the ability critically to evaluate the law and practice in relation to the mentally disordered. The module will also examine specific issues which arise in relation to the law relating to mental disorder and the treatment and care of children and young persons, women, and the elderly; the sexuality of the mentally disordered and the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 upon the law in relation to the mentally disordered. You will take this module together with students enrolled in LLM law masters programmes.

Module 3- Public Mental Health and Comparative Mental Health Systems

After providing an overview of the history of Psychiatry and key themes and debates in Public Mental Health, this module will contextualize mental health issues in terms of public responsibility to tackle discrimination and promote well-being and intends to integrate international and comparative perspectives on mental health systems throughout the course content. The module also examines the place of legislations in the context of a global perspective with respect to international law, comparative law, counter-terrorism and human rights.

Module 4- Professional Skills in Mental Health Law

The module examines key factors that influence the gathering and giving of evidence in courts and tribunals. You will be equipped with the professional skills required for writing court reports and witness statements and will also understand the practical aspects of applications for Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) under the rules of DoL safeguards. You will be introduced to the procedures and jurisdiction of the court of protection and tribunals. Lectures will range from the roles of professionals in courts to forensic mental health and policing within the context of mental illness.

Module 5- Applied Research Methods

This module is dedicated to learning about research methods, completing an original research project and writing your thesis. You will learn about qualitative and quantitative research methods, systematic reviews, ethics, collecting new data, analysis of the data, and how to write a dissertation.

Example dissertation topics:

  • The efficacy of advanced decisions as a legal instrument for the right to refuse treatment in psychiatry: A systematic review
  • A systematic review of comparative perceptions of capacity legislation across the jurisdictions of the UK
  • Human rights legislations and mental health: An international overview.

You will take this module together with the students enrolled in the other MSc in Mental health pathways (Cultural and Global Perspectives in Mental Health Care and Psychological Therapies).

The Mental Health and Law pathway is also available through a distance learning option. All students will have access to QMPLUS, the virtual learning environment for each module, including: Online Programme Syllabus (student handbook); Tools for e-lecture materials; tools for online group work materials; tools for submitting online assignments/homework; QMPLUS email; virtual discussion board; virtual classrooms (synchronous). In addition, lectures are recorded using screen capture technology and then uploaded onto QMPLUS.

Qualification and course duration


distance learning
24 months
part time
24 months
full time
12 months


full time
3 months


part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Maria Patsou/Lenka Buss
+44 (0)20 7882 2013