Taught course

Bioethics and Health Law

University of Otago · Division of Health Sciences

Entry requirements

  • Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences).
  • Every applicant shall have qualified for the Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Laboratory Science with credit or distinction, or have equivalent qualifications acceptable to the Board of Studies for Medical Laboratory Science.

If your first language is not English you need to meet our English language requirements as follows: IELTS score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0); we also accept a number of other English language tests. Due to COVID-19, we currently accept Duolingo English Test (DET), IELTS Indicator Test, and TOEFL iBT Special home Edition.

Don’t meet the English language requirements? The University of Otago Language Centre "English for Otago" programme offers a pathway for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students to meet the English language requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Months of entry

February, July

Course content

The Master of Bioethics and Health Law (MBHL) degree is an interdisciplinary postgraduate programme which consists in writing a research dissertation under supervision and completing papers worth an additional 120 points from a schedule of papers. The degree may be awarded with distinction or credit. The degree draws on the resources of both ethical and legal theory, and attends to bioethical problems arising from the increasing use of technology in medicine and changes in the resourcing and delivery of health care.

New birth technologies, genetic modification of organisms, patient confidentiality and environmental concerns are some of the diverse topics explored in the field of Bioethics. There is an increasing recognition of the need to expand our understanding of the ethical issues being raised by advances in medicine, health care, science and technology and by changes in society.

The Bioethics Centre, established at the University of Otago in 1988, aims to encourage and coordinate teaching and research in ethics, to stimulate informed public debate and to provide a consultation and resource service for health professionals and others in the community. As New Zealand's only centre for applied ethics, the Centre offers you unique opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate study in Bioethics.

Law permeates all social activity. It defines relationships, protects rights, imposes obligations and gives structure to governmental and commercial enterprise.

Law graduates are well equipped to analyse complex issues, find solutions to a wide variety of problems and contribute to decision-making at all levels. They are skilled in the precise use of language, both oral and written. They understand the limits of law and its relationship with other social forces.

Many graduates find careers as lawyers in private practice, but others prefer to work in business, government, the public sector or welfare agencies.

Structure of the Programme

  • A candidate who has completed the requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma in Bioethics and Health Law shall be exempted from those papers in the programme for the degree which have been previously passed for the diploma, in which case the programme will normally consist of the dissertation only.
  • The Bioethics Board of Studies may in special circumstances approve the inclusion in the programme of papers worth up to 30 points which are not listed in the schedule.
  • A candidate who has previously completed two or more papers listed in the schedule for another completed postgraduate diploma or honours degree or equivalent qualification may be exempted from a paper or papers up to a value of 30 points.
  • Law graduates who have passed LAWS 311, LAWS 428, LAWS 448, or LAWS 477 shall be required to take at least 30 points of LAWS papers from the schedule, or to take 30 points of other approved comparable papers.
  • A candidate transferring credits for Law papers from another university shall be required to complete at least one of LAWS 547, or LAWS 548.

Information for international students

Otago offers students an unrivalled campus experience and a vibrant, social student culture. The majority of Otago’s 21,000 students live, work and play in Dunedin - New Zealand’s only true university city. Otago is home to over 3,000 students, from over 100 countries.

Fees and funding

International students
NZ $35,798

New Zealand is a relatively affordable country to live in. Dunedin, being a student-focused city, has living and entertainment options for all budgets.

Students are eligible for the Otago International Excellence Scholarship.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MBHL
    full time
    12-18 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    36-72 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details