LLM in Medical Law and Ethics
The LLM in Medical Law and Ethics by online learning is positioned at the constantly changing interface between medicine and law.
This is an interdisciplinary programme focusing on the important issues affecting medicine, law, and ethics today, within international, European, and domestic settings.
This internationally focussed programme covers the core areas of medical law and ethics, including:
- Medical consent
- Negligence and confidentiality
- Issues at the beginning and end of life
- Patient confidentiality
- Public health
- Regulation of medical research
- Legal and social approaches to biotechnology
The programme also enables you to explore the international and interdisciplinary dimensions of medical law and ethics. You will have opportunities to examine health care policy and the regulation of medicine in different parts of the world. You will also evaluate responses to technology and debate possible futures for medical law.
The University of Edinburgh's world-class LLM in Medical Law and Ethics helped me grow tremendously as a lawyer and personally.
Medical law is a fascinating field of study in the 21st century as advances in medical research and new technologies shift the boundaries of medicine.
New health issues are emerging and patient rights are increasingly taking centre stage. New and complex medico-legal dilemmas are arising in clinical practice, in the realities of human health, and in the relationships between patients and health care professionals.
The programme has been designed for health care professionals, those working in the health-related professions, practitioners in the pharmaceuticals industry, and legal professionals.
Health care professionals will benefit from new knowledge and perspectives on the day-to-day legal and ethical issues they encounter, as well as from the interdisciplinary nature of the programme.
Lawyers and law graduates joining the programme will be able to develop a much broader understanding of medical law and ethics than simply the specialist practice areas of medical negligence and personal injury.
The programme will be of interest if you are interested in specialising or changing career – to work in the following areas:
- medical law or health policy;
- advising medical professionals and/or patients;
- risk management and regulatory affairs, including in health research or in the pharmaceutical or medical devices industries.
Graduates of the LLM in Medical Law and Ethics talk about their experiences of studying online for an LLM on this video playlist of interviews.
We aim to provide challenging, research-led teaching with students benefiting from the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of tutors and the results of innovative cross-cutting research of the highest quality.
Edinburgh Law School academics teaching on this programme are exploring highly topical research themes, which you will also encounter on the programme:
- the governance of new medical technologies
- e-health, data sharing and privacy
- the regulation of biomedical research
- the role of law within the doctor-patient relationship
- human enhancement
Teaching staff on the LLM programme are also affiliated with the Mason Institute - an interdisciplinary network aimed at investigating the ethical, legal, social and political issues at the interface between medicine, life sciences and the law.
If you have any questions about the LLM in Medical Law and Ethics by online learning please don't hesitate to contact us.
The LLM in Medical Law and Ethics offers a comprehensive range of core courses which cover the fundamental areas of medical law.
The programme consists of 180 credits, comprising taught courses worth 120 credits (60 credits per semester) and a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 credits. Full programme details including course descriptions are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.
Courses shown below are scheduled to run in the 2019/20 academic year.
You must complete these courses:
- The Fundamentals of Law and Medical Ethics (20 credits)
This course examines the integral relationship between medical law and ethics, and considers the roles and relationships within the clinical setting and in a wider context. It will equip you with an understanding of foundational concepts that are central to your programme. The core aims of the course are:
- To foster a critical understanding of the principal elements of medical jurisprudence
- To develop a critical appreciation of the principal theories, principles and concepts that inform the relationship between medical ethics and medical law
- To support students to demonstrate originality and creativity in the application of their knowledge, understanding of the law to address current issues facing healthcare professionals and medical lawyers in everyday aspects of medicine
- To encourage development of original and creative responses to problems and issues thrown up by medical practice for law and ethics, especially where the current legal response is wanting or absent
- To equip students to deal with complex ethical and professional issues and to make informed judgements on issues not addressed by current professional and/or ethical codes or practices.
- Fundamentals in Bioethics (20 credits)
This course serves as a foundation for critical engagement with the core elements of doing bioethics. It will introduce you to three pillars of rigorous bioethical analysis:
- defining and distinguishing concepts
- understanding theories
- recognising and constructing robust arguments.
It will equip students with the skills to develop and defend ethical arguments, and to apply these to legal, regulatory and policy issues in health, medicine and the biosciences.
- Law and Ethics at the Start and End of Life (20 credits)
This course provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge about fundamentals in medical law and ethics to dilemmas arising across the human lifecycle, from start to end of life. It will draw upon and deepen your understanding of the core concepts, roles and responsibilities covered earlier in the programme.
You must select between 40 and 60 credits from the following courses:
- Governance of Innovative Medicine (20 credits)
This is a course about facilitation of the development of innovative medicinal products and their release into the market and clinic, in order to fulfil the societal goal to deliver 'public goods of health'. It provides a framework for thinking about how governance mechanisms enable both the creation of novel research tools and therapeutic products, and their accessibility to the widest community of researchers and patients, in order to ensure their best use to generate the social benefits of health. To do this, the course draws on the notion that innovative medicines have led to innovative governance mechanisms, in a relationship based on dialogue.
- Global Health: Law and Policy (20 credits)
This course offers a grounding in the fundamental elements of global health law and policy. It explores the form and function of global health; the social influences that can impact upon global health; and how international law and policy shape the contours of global health. This course also supports students to assess international institutions that administer global health programmes and/or respond to global health needs through international innovation and collaboration.
- Shaping Modern Healthcare (10 credits)
This course provides students with an opportunity to explore some of the ways that modern healthcare has been (and is being) shaped by key events, actors, and objects. In particular, it reflects on how these have impacted on law, policy and regulation in the sector, and how this continues to evolve. This course will contextualise and deepen student's understanding of the changing healthcare landscape. It will equip students to navigate a range of primary and secondary sources in order to advance arguments and positions at this intersection of law, policy and regulation. While this course focuses on the UK as its primary jurisdiction, it also provides scope for students to reflect on the issues raised in relation to their home jurisdictions (if different).
- Regulating Health and Social Care Professionals (10 credits)
This course provides students with an understanding of the principal legal and policy frameworks that govern the regulation of health and social care professionals in the UK. It has a particular focus on fitness to practise proceedings (for example, where a complaint is made to the General Medical Council about the conduct of a doctor, or the Nursing and Midwifery Council about the conduct of a nurse). This course operates in an area characterised by professional dilemmas. It will equip students to navigate a range of primary and secondary sources in order to advance arguments and positions at this intersection of law, policy and professional practice. While this course focuses on the UK as its primary jurisdiction, it also provides scope for students to reflect on the issues raised in relation to their home jurisdictions (if different).
- Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society (20 credits)
This course will develop your understanding of and engagement with applied bioethics.
- It builds on the skills developed in Fundamentals in Bioethics and applies the three pillars of rigorous bioethical analysis: concepts; theories; and argument.
- It will focus on the particular challenges raised by the development and application of biotechnologies, and their implications for society.
- It will demonstrate how ethical analysis can help us to think about the impacts of biotechnologies on social norms and social structures.
- It will equip you to recognise the challenges of, and design suitable responses to biotechnological innovation, as set against a context of plural values and perspectives in societies.
- European Health Law and Policy (20 credits)
This course introduces students to those areas of European laws applicable to health care, health systems, and health policy. Using examples of the European Union and the Council of Europe, in the wake of the Brexit decision, the course explores examples of health care law in transition. From an understanding of the EU Competence Framework and relevant European structures and bodies, the course considers the impact on health policies of the four freedoms of movement: of goods, services, capital, and people. In particular, the course examines the ongoing legal and policy implications for European states, as the UK is poised to leave the European Union.
Please note that courses 'Shaping Modern Healthcare' and 'Regulating Health and Social Care Professionals' are co-requisites and must both be taken in the semester in which they run.
You can choose between 0 and 20 credits from the following courses:
- EU Data Protection Law (20 credits)
- EU Law (20 credits)
- Withdrawal from the EU and the Law (Brexit) (20 credits)
- Communications Law (20 credits)
- European Competition and Innovation (20 credits)
- International Intellectual Property System (20 credits) - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.
- Intellectual Property Law: Copyright & Related Rights (20 credits)
- Law of Climate Change (20 credits)
- Principles of International Taxation (20 credits) - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year.
- Law of Robotics (20 credits)
- Forensic Computing and Electronic Evidence (20 credits)
- International and European Media Law (20 credits)
- Legal Aspects of Managing Intellectual Property (20 credits)
Full course descriptions are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.
You can choose between 0 and 20 credits from the following courses with the approval of your Programme Director:
- Contract Law in Europe (20 credits)
- Corporate Compliance: Case Studies in Law & Ethics (20 credits)
- Information Technology Law (20 credits)
- International Commercial Arbitration (20 credits)
- Comparative & International Corporate Governance (20 credits)
- Dispute Resolution Methods (20 credits)
- Electronic Commerce Law (20 credits)
- Information: Control and Power - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year. (20 credits)
- Intellectual Property Law - Industrial Property (20 credits)
- Intellectual Property and Human Rights - this course will not be offered in the 2019/20 academic year. (20 credits)
- International Oil & Gas Law (20 credits)
- International Law, Human Rights & Corporate Accountability (20 credits)
Full course descriptions are available on the University Degree Regulations and Programmes of Study website.
Having successfully completed 120 credit points of courses within the LLM, you will be ready to move onto a single piece of independent and in-depth research. The 10,000 word dissertation allows you to focus on a preferred topic from within the options available in the programme.
Your dissertation title will be agreed with your supervisor during your final semester of taught study. Dissertation topics must fall within the scope of your programme and will relate to specific courses that you have taken at Edinburgh. Supervision continues throughout the research and writing of the dissertation.
Your dissertation must demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the relevant literature and an ability to engage in critical analysis. More credit will be given for originality and evidence of independent thinking, whether in terms of the material used, or the manner in which it is presented.
The dissertation is written in the summer months (April to August) after the taught courses are successfully completed.
Courses are offered once in an academic year. Each semester you will choose the course(s) you wish to study in that particular semester. Courses are then allocated. Details of the courses available will be provided in advance. Courses are then allocated.
The allocation process is intended to support student choices as much as possible, while taking account of optimum class sizes for specific courses.
Class sizes have typically ranged from 15 to 25 students in the past. If more students request a course than can be allocated, students who need to take the course in order to fulfil core programme requirements will have priority and others may be asked to defer that course choice to a later year of study.
Terms and conditions
Please note the University reserves the right to make variations to the contents of programmes, including the range of courses offered, and the available choice of courses in any given year may change.
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.
If you have any questions about the LLM in Medical Law and Ethics by online learning please don't hesitate to contact us.
Courses on the LLM in Medical Law and Ethics are taught by a core teaching team made up of individuals who each has an outstanding record of research in the field, as well as in other related areas. Core teaching staff for the 2019/20 academic year are listed below.
Gerard is a lecturer in medical law and ethics in the School of Law. His research interests include medical law, patent law and the regulation of the life sciences. He speaks Japanese and also conducts comparative research in Japanese law within these subject areas.
He has held visiting fellowships at the Centre for Studies in Ethics and Rights (Mumbai, India), the Centre for Biomedical Ethics, National University of Singapore and with the Program on Science, Technology and Society at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Edward (Ted) Dove is Lecturer in Risk and Regulation at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, and Deputy Director of the J Kenyon Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and Law.
From 2011 until 2014, Ted was an Academic Associate at the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University in Montreal. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA) in Political Science and Civil Law and Common Law degrees(BCL, LLB) from McGill University, a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from Columbia University in New York City and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh.
Ted’s primary research interests are in the areas of regulation of biomedical research, research ethics oversight, health-related data access and sharing, and governance of international research collaboration.
Murray Earle is a Teaching Fellow in medical law. He is a graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand (BA Law & International Relations; BA (Hons) Comparative Literature), and the University of Edinburgh (LLM Medical Jurisprudence &the Sociology of Law; and PhD in Medical Law).
Murray started his career as a lecturer in medical law at the University of Glasgow, while completing his PhD. That was followed by work as a Senior Researcher at the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe, 2000-2011). From there he developed an independent career, writing, and teaching on, a wide range of online postgraduate medical law courses offered by the School of Law, at the University of Edinburgh.
Annie Sorbie is a Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics at Edinburgh Law School, with a research and teaching portfolio. She is a medical lawyer (currently non-practising) with over 14 years’ experience in legal practice in the health, social care and regulatory sector (September 2001 – December 2015, Partner from 2009). She has extensive experience of providing strategic advice on matters of health regulatory practice and policy, both in health and social care regulation, and also more widely within the NHS and private sectors.
Having joined the Wellcome funded Liminal Spaces Project in January 2016, Annie’s doctoral research interrogates the contribution of the public interest to health research regulation in the context of access to identifiable patient information for research purposes without consent. Annie is also a Deputy Director of the Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and the Law, and co-leads its policy portfolio. In June 2018 Annie was appointed to the Lay Advisory Group of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
Emily is an Early Career Fellow in Bioethics. Her background is in philosophical bioethics and policy management. She was awarded her PhD for her thesis ‘Defining Ourselves: narrative identity and access to personal bioinformation’ in 2017.
Prior to her doctoral research she worked in policy roles at the Scottish Government in the fields of public health and environmental justice. She was also project leader and co-author of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 2013 report ‘Novel Neurotechnologies: intervening in the brain’. She has published on ethical and legal issues relating to identity development, consent to research participation, secondary uses of health data, and neurotechnology.
Emily’s main research interests lie in exploring the relationships between biomedical information and self-conception, specifically the narrative constitution of self. Emily is Course Organiser for the on-campus and online LLM courses Fundamentals in Bioethics and Biotechnology, Bioethics and Society. She is a Deputy Director of the JK Mason Institute for Medicine, Life Sciences and the Law, with particular responsibility for the Institute’s policy engagement portfolio.
The staff teaching on this programme are subject to change for 2019/20 and will depend on the core courses offered. Staff listed as on sabbatical will not be available to teach for the duration of their sabbatical.
If you have any questions about the LLM in Medical Law and Ethics please don't hesitate to contact us.
We require a minimum of a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent. Your degree does not have to be in the subject of law, but it must be from a recognised higher education institution.
We will also consider your other qualifications and professional experience as part of your application.
Entry to this programme is competitive and meeting the minimum requirements for consideration does not guarantee an offer of study.
If you have a non-UK degree, please check whether your degree qualification is equivalent to the minimum standard before applying.
We also take into account postgraduate qualifications, such as an MA, MSc, MBA or PhD.
Professional experience in appropriate areas is also considered as part of an application, although candidates, including qualified lawyers, will in almost every instance be expected to have reached the required academic levels.
Postgraduate study in the field of law requires a thorough, complex and demanding knowledge of English, so we ask that the communication skills of all students are at the same minimum standard.
Students whose first language is not English must therefore show evidence of one of the following qualifications below:
- IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module).
- TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module).
- PTE(A): 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).
Your English language certificate must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.
We do accept an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The UK Government's website provides a list of majority English speaking countries.
We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, or equivalent, 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.
Your application may not be successful if you do not currently satisfy any of these requirements; alternatively, you may be offered a place conditional on your reaching the satisfactory standard by the time you start the degree.
The University offers an online pre-sessional academic language course designed to help international postgraduate online learning students prepare for their programme of study.
If you are currently studying for another qualification, you may still be able to apply on the assumption that all written work for that qualification will be submitted for examination by the start of teaching in the year of entry to the degree programme.
Candidates admitted on this basis, who do not provide evidence of such completion by the start of their first semester, will be formally withdrawn from their studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Please note that during the period of your registration with the University, except in exceptional cases and with the permission of the College, you must not take courses or pursue studies in this or in any other institution with a view to obtaining any degree, diploma or professional qualification other than the one for which you are registered at this University.
If you have any questions about our entry requirements please don't hesitate to contact us.
The LLM in Medical Law and Ethics by online learning has start dates in September and January of each academic year.
We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test.Apply now
We aim to review applications and make selection decisions throughout the cycle and we monitor application numbers carefully to ensure we are able to accommodate all those who receive offers. It may therefore be necessary to close a programme earlier than the published deadline and if this is the case we will place a four-week warning notice on the relevant programme page.
September 2019 entry
Applications to this programme for September 2019 entry are now closed.
Please note that if you receive a conditional offer of a place on one of our programmes, the deadline for meeting the conditions of your offer is 31 July 2019.
January 2020 entry
The deadline for applications for entry in January 2020 is 4:00pm (UK time) on 12 November 2019.
Please note that if you receive a conditional offer of a place on one of our programmes, the deadline for meeting the conditions of your offer is 26 November 2019.
Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.
Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:
- Degree certificates showing award of degree.
- Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes (please upload the full transcript showing results from all years of study). Where academic paperwork is not in English, certified translations must be provided (these must have been produced by a certified translator);
Find out more about certified translations
- Details of professional qualifications and any appropriate professional registrations.
- A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme. We may accept a non-academic reference from applicants who have been out of higher education for five years or more.
- Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.
- Personal statement - you will be asked to complete a personal statement (maximum 3500 characters - approximately 500 words) as part of your application.
- Relevant knowledge / skills - this may include details of any skills or voluntary work that you have undertaken that you feel are pertinent to the programme (maximum 3500 characters - approximately 500 words).
If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.
After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University's applicant hub.
Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.
You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:
- You may be offered a place unconditionally
- You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
- Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
View the University's guidance for unsuccessful applicants
You can find full and detailed application guidance on the University's website.
Applicants receiving an unconditional offer of admission to the LLM in Medical Law and Ethics will be asked to pay a deposit of £1000 to secure their place on the programme
The deposit fee will be deducted from the first tuition fee instalment you have to pay and so enables you to spread the financial cost of the LLM.
September 2019 applicants
The deposit must be paid within 28 days of the date that the unconditional offer was made or by 7 August 2019, whichever is sooner.
January 2020 applicants
The deposit must be paid within 28 days of the date that the unconditional offer was made or by 29 November 2019, whichever is sooner.
The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.