Postgraduate study

Medical Law and Ethics LLM

Awards: LLM

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Medical Law and Ethics

Individual and population health is a matter of growing social concern. Achieving good health and delivering effective healthcare demands scientific, medical and policy innovation. A variety of fields have a role to play, including law and ethics.

As a student on this programme you will examine topics that reflect some of the main contemporary legal and ethical challenges faced by those working in healthcare and health research, and place them in their social and historical context. These include issues that arise in the context of genetics, assisted reproduction, abortion, standards of medical treatment, transplantation medicine, mental health, advance decisions, assisted suicide, health research, and the allocation of scarce resources.

We offer you the opportunity to study the fundamentals of medical law and ethics, both international and domestic, at an advanced level, and the opportunity to take more specialised courses on issues of contemporary significance, encouraging and supporting the development of research skills necessary for a career in medical law or ethics.

The legal and ethical experts who deliver this programme come from a wide range of disciplines from across the University, and they benefit from a close association with the J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law.

You must complete 180 credits of study – 60 credits are taken in the compulsory dissertation and the remaining 120 credits are taken in taught courses.

You will experience a range of teaching styles on these courses, led by members of Edinburgh Law School's academic community and experienced legal and industry practitioners.

You are expected to prepare in advance by reading the required materials and by reflecting on the issues to be discussed, and your participation in classes will be assessed.

For the dissertation you will have a supervisor from whom you can expect guidance and support, but the purpose of the dissertation is to allow you to independently design and conduct a piece of research and analysis.

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances or lack of demand for particular courses, we may not be able to run all courses as advertised come the start of the academic year.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
LLMMedical Law and Ethics1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
LLMMedical Law and Ethics2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

By the end of the programme, you will be able to:

  • identify areas of law relevant to contemporary issues in the broad healthcare setting
  • identify gaps, inconsistencies, or instances of inappropriate or over-regulation in healthcare and nascent fields
  • build on your understanding of key values in medical law and ethics, such as autonomy, solidarity, justice, reciprocity
  • build on your understanding of key mechanisms in medical law and ethics, such as consent, confidentiality, human rights, etc
  • appreciate the international dimensions of medicine and its regulation, including the growing importance of European regulation and international agreements
  • appreciate the limits of law in discerning appropriate social responses to new medical and technical advances
  • develop critical thinking informed by legal, ethical, and social science analysis, and apply that thinking to comment upon the law’s role and appropriate responses to contemporary issues
  • experience the benefits of undertaking study in different learning environments (both on-campus and online)

You will engage with different learning environments and modes of class participation, and will draw upon and develop a range of skills. The programme will foster imaginative ways of unpacking and responding to contemporary issues in ways that do not necessarily follow or merely apply existing paradigms or legal constructs.

You will demonstrate a sound grasp of the foundational elements of medical law and ethics, including the role of the law and its various mechanisms (eg: consent, confidentiality, reasonableness, negligence) and the cross-cutting human rights dimensions.

You will develop critical thinking informed by ethical analysis, and apply that thinking to comment on and critique the law’s role in regulating medicine, healthcare services, research, and nascent fields.

Other skills you will develop include:

  • general intellectual skills, such as independent critical analysis, interdisciplinary understandings of common problems, problem-solving through reasoned and well-justified ethical and legal discourse, synthesis of complex information and ability to subject to informed critique
  • personal skills, such as written and oral skills, group working and interaction skills, intellectual development through interdisciplinary engagement and blended learning environment
  • study-derived personal virtues, such as autonomy, critical self-reflection, consideration of others and academic integrity

This programme can lead to a range of employment opportunities and specialised academic work, including: specialised training for solicitor or advocate work with an emphasis on health-related issues; professional care providers; ethics review panel members; health policy and/or patient advocates (such as NGOs); or health policy designers (such as governmental legal advisers, consultants, etc).

A minimum UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in law, politics, medicine, medical humanities or life sciences.

We will also consider candidates with a degree in a related discipline which includes relevant prior study.

Entry to this programme is competitive. Meeting minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 7.0 in the writing component and 6.5 in each other module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 25 in writing and 23 in each other module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 67 in writing and at least 61 in each of the other "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 185 in writing and 176 in each other module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
LLMMedical Law and Ethics1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
LLMMedical Law and Ethics2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Prof Graeme Laurie
  • Edinburgh Law School Postgraduate Office
  • Old College
  • South Bridge
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9YL
Programme start date Application deadline
14 September 2020 30 June 2020

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Prof Graeme Laurie
  • Edinburgh Law School Postgraduate Office
  • Old College
  • South Bridge
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9YL