The MA in Health, Bioethics and Law will enable you to critically explore key issues in bioethics and law in terms of legal principles and philosophical concepts.
Co-taught by the Birmingham Law School and the Department of Philosophy, the programme takes an interdisciplinary approach which caters to the needs of those from a variety of backgrounds. The programme is ideal for healthcare professionals, intercalating medical students, philosophers or anyone interested in the issues at the intersection of healthcare, ethics and law.
This programme is also available to legal professionals, although we also offer an LLM Health, Bioethics and Law.
The programme allows for multi-disciplinary entry. You need an upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in humanities, social sciences, medicine or a cognate discipline.
We accept a range of qualifications
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
by holding an English language qualification to the right level
by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students
In addition to Research Skills and Methods (for students with a law background) or Socio-Legal Theory (for students without a law background), you will study the following two core modules:
This module introduces you to the increasing number of dilemmas in bioethics that cross national boundaries and transcend domestic regulation. Bioethical dilemmas, whether arising from scientific and technological developments or from the research practices of pharmaceutical companies, raise issues which cannot be effectively addressed at national or regional levels. Bioethics clearly calls for global solutions to what are global dilemmas and you will be introduced to some of the key bioethical issues which arise in the contemporary global context
Human Rights and Healthcare Law
This course explores the interface between human rights and health care law. It examines the evolution of Health Care Law both before and after the enactment of the UK Human Rights Act 1998. It explores this debate in the context of a number of controversial and topical issues.
Further information on the Human Rights and Healthcare Law module is available on the Law School website.
You will then choose three optional modules from the following:
Criminal Law and Medicine
The aim of this module is to explore some key aspects of criminal law and its relation to medicine. The focus will be on the arrangements in England and Wales, but where appropriate reference will be made to comparative material from other countries.
Further information on the Criminal Law and Medicine module is also available on the Law School website.
European Health Law
The EU is increasingly having an impact upon domestic health law and policy across member states. This has given rise to increased legislation, regulation and engagement by academic writers and policy makers in this area. This module explores the legal and institutional frameworks that deliver health law and policy in Europe and the nature and extent of their impact upon member states by reference to selected examples.
Further information on the European Health Law module is also available on the Law School website.
Global Ethics I
This module aims to introduce you to key concepts and debates in global ethics. First, we will explore several prominent traditions in ethical theory; next we will apply these normative ethical theories to concrete ethical questions. In investigating these theories and applications, you will be encouraged to question your presumptions about the nature of ethics and moral values. The module also develops critical reasoning and argumentative skills through philosophical discussion and writing. The theoretical tools of analysis and argument can be applied in all aspects of global ethics.
Global Ethics II
This module develops your understanding of key global ethical issues, in particular human rights, poverty, distributive justice, cosmopolitan democracy, governance and humanitarian intervention.
Mentally Disordered Offenders
This module covers a number of areas, including relevant legislation (The Mental Health Act, The Human Rights Act and The Mental Capacity Act) and topics such as psychiatric defences, mental health tribunals, civil law and statutory care in the community as well as recent developments and proposed reforms.
Further information on the Mentally Disordered Offenders module is available on the Law School website.
Philosophy and Mental Health
The module provides an overview of contemporary debates in philosophy and mental health. In each seminar a new issue will be investigated, but there will be three interrelated threads throughout the module. One is about the nature of psychiatry. The second is about the sense in which psychiatric disorders are disorders of the self. The third is about how we should respond to people with psychiatric disorders, considered from a wide range of perspectives, including interpersonal, clinical, ethical, legal and public health policy. These themes will be addressed by reference to different aspects of psychiatry (e.g. classification, diagnosis, aetiology, research, treatment), different psychiatric disorders (e.g. addiction, anorexia, dementia, dissociation, schizophrenia, personality disorders, psychopathy), and different disciplinary frameworks. The course will also have a practical element involving structured, outcome-focused deliberation about difficult cases highlighting these threads and their inter-relations.
Philosophy of Cognitive Science
This module covers key topics in the Philosophy of Cognitive Science. We will start off with traditional topics which provide insight into the conceptual foundations of cognitive science. In particular, we will look at: the distinction between personal and sub-personal levels of explanation, the Computational Theory of Mind, modularity and, if we have time, Connectionism. Against this background, our discussion will turn to more contemporary topics, with an emphasis on methodological worries about current theorising in cognitive science and neuroscience. Specifically, we will focus on a selection of topics such as the scientific study of consciousness, delusions and rationality, the use of double dissociation arguments in cognitive neuropsychology, and the question of what fMRI can tell us about the mind.
Philosophy of Health and Happiness
The module will examine debates at the forefront of current research in the philosophy of health and happiness. You will explore conceptual problems (e.g. what ‘health’ and ‘disease’ are) and question contemporary lifestyle issues (for instance, regarding how health, happiness and meaning relate, as well as whether there is a correlation between income and life satisfaction). You will also be asked to consider how technological advances (such as those in genetics) are changing these understandings.
Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.
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