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 Director of the Bioethics Centre following consultation with the Bioethics Board of Studies.

Every applicant shall

  • be a graduate or possess an appropriate health professional qualification requiring at least three years of full-time tertiary study and
  • present evidence of ability for advanced level academic study.

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 Postgraduate Diploma in Bioethics and Health Law (PGDipBHL) provides a thorough grounding in bioethics and the legal aspects of health care, and explores both ethical and legal approaches to issues related to modern medicine. This qualification is offered jointly by the Bioethics Centre and the Faculty of Law, and students are encouraged to develop an interdisciplinary approach.

There are three core papers (Theories of Biomedical Ethics; Issues in Law, Ethics and Medicine; and Law and Medicine). At least one other Law paper is required and the rest of the points are made up of further Bioethics or Law papers. The qualification exempts candidates for the degree of Master of Bioethics and Health Law from 120 points of papers.

The programme is available either full or part-time, and can be completed at a distance.

Structure of the Programme

  • The programme of study shall consist of papers from the schedule to the value of 120 points.
  • With prior approval of the Director of the Bioethics Centre following consultation with the Bioethics Board of Studies, one or more appropriate papers taught by a university at an equivalent level may be substituted for those in the schedule, to a maximum value of 30 points.
  • Law graduates who have passed LAWS 311, LAWS 428, LAWS 447, or LAWS 448,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 may seek credit or exemption of up to 30 points based on Law papers from another university. Such candidates shall be required to complete at least one of LAWS 547 or LAWS 548.
  • A candidate who has completed the requirements for the Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences endorsed in Clinical Ethics shall be exempted from those papers in the programme for the diploma which have been previously passed for the certificate.

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.

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

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

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • PGDip(BHL)
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details