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Yes

Distance/blended learning available?

Yes

Tier 4 visa



2:1

Previous degree required

1 Year

Duration

Matthew James

Programme Director

Email | 020 8240 4811

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This established MA course equips you with the skills to assess the ethical, legal, social and spiritual aspects of advances in medicine and related technologies.

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Why study Bioethics and Medical Law?

Whether you realise it or not bioethics is relevant to all our lives. Even if we never work in healthcare it touches us when we are most vulnerable - when we or those we care for are unwell.

Almost every day, it seems some new ethical dilemma appears in the news; whether to do with assisted dying, stem cell therapies or three-parent IVF, resource allocation, nanotechnologies, human cloning or health and climate change. Having a greater understanding of the issues involved can enable more in-depth public engagement.

Reflection on the ethical principles that underlie medical and allied practice is an important part of continuing career development for healthcare professionals.

Ethics and values are becoming central themes in many boardrooms and planning meetings across all sectors of life. From civic leadership to business, from politics to healthcare, new developments in medicine, biotech, genetics and other sciences are stretching traditional ethical understanding to the limit.

If you are working in any of these areas, or aspire to in the future, the MA in Bioethics and Medical Law is an excellent way to be equipped to play your part.

Aims and Outcomes

  • To promote respect for human dignity and respect for the life of human beings, as understood in the Hippocratic / Judeo-Christian tradition, through the provision of a thorough academic understanding of the major issues and competing schools of contemporary bioethics.
  • To contribute significantly to St Mary's mission to the personal, social, spiritual and academic needs of all its students and its mission to the wider Church and society.
  • To familiarise the students with the plurality of academic and practical approaches to bioethical issues and to study all approaches with academic rigour and sensitivity.
  • To promote academic enquiry into Bioethics within a Hippocratic/Judeo-Christian context with awareness of the ecumenical and inter-faith significance of cooperation in matters of justice.
  • To provide healthcare professionals and those who teach ethical subjects with the intellectual resources to reflect critically on the ethical issues of modern medicine.
  • To develop as a centre for dialogue and reflection for those within the Catholic Church, those of other Christian traditions and of other faiths or none, in order to explore our common humanity, and hence to promote the culture of life.

Why St Mary's?

It is often said, "bioethics is moral philosophy done badly". At St Mary's our multidisciplinary team of ethics experts with backgrounds in law, medicine, philosophy and theology ensure that every student has a chance to gain a thorough understanding of the grounding of ethical principles and their application.

We place a high priority on building a learning community between students and lecturers, which allows for the exchange of ideas and perspectives to thrive.

Personal Tutors will support you throughout the degree, providing learning guidance that will assist you to make the best possible progress and help to map your career development.

The success of our students - in completing PhDs, getting papers published and advancing their careers in biomedical ethics and related fields - bears out the effectiveness of this approach.

The MA in Bioethics and Medical Law is offered both part-time (normally over two or three years) and full-time (over one year). This structure has the great benefit of flexibility, allowing you to switch between your initial decision to study for an MA, PGDip or PGCert.

Teaching methods

Lectures and discussion groups are held on campus, one (part-time) or two evenings (full-time) per week. All the lectures are available on our online learning platform. Both on-site and distance learners also participate in online discussion.

All students attend three (part-time) or six (full-time) Saturday seminars over the year.

Extensive use of film clips and current news items are incorporated into the taught programme and a drama presentation is one of the highlights of the course each year.

Assessment methods

A variety of different forms of assessment are employed across the programme including:

  • Online discussion
  • Critiques of academic papers, news media and thought leader pieces
  • Essays
  • Collaborative based assessments
  • An unseen written examination (in the case of medical law)

Key facts

  • Multi-disciplinary teaching team
  • Flexible full time, or two-three year part time options
  • Choice of on-site or blended distance learning
  • Excellent student support
  • Priority placed on building thriving learning communities between students and lecturers
  • Graduates now serving on their national bioethics committees
  • Both current students and graduates published regularly in peer review journals

Course content

Modules

  • Bioethics and Medical Law 
  • Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life 
  • Ethical Issues at the End of Life 
  • Human Beings and Human Action 
  • Patients, Professionals and Society 
  • Religious Bioethics 
  • Research Methods and Dissertation 
Please note: information published on this webpage is subject to change before the programme commences. Please refer to the Programme Specification document (PDF) for an authoritative summary of the programme.

Career opportunities

Institutions are increasingly being called to account for their decisions and procedures, and reflection on the ethical principles that underlie practice is an important part of continuing professional development for healthcare professionals.

An MA in Bioethics and Medical Law is therefore a very flexible and useful qualification to have. It offers a unique and distinguishing asset to have on your CV: our students find the course not only interesting in itself, but also a unique distinguishing asset when applying for jobs in medicine, nursing and allied health care professions as well as in education and law.

The degree sharpens your ability to critically engage and contribute to the world around you: the study of a contemporary and universally relevant subject such as medical ethics and law is an excellent preparation for any profession that requires graduates with high levels of human understanding, critical skills and knowledge of current affairs.

The MA also provides a strong foundation for those wishing to pursue further postgraduate research at PhD level. Previous MA graduates have gone on to study for doctorates at St Mary’s and other universities in the UK and internationally. Several past students are currently on the national bioethics bodies for their home countries.

Many of our students study for the MA as a form of professional development and advancing their career prospects. Through one-to-one sessions, interaction with MA graduates and careers workshops held in conjunction with the Careers Service, we aim to help students explore the full range of opportunities that are available to them once they have completed their MA.

The Careers Service has more information on graduate careers and part-time work available during your course.

Facilities

View all facilities

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Home/EU: £6,000
International: £13,650

View Bioethics and Medical Law part-time fee information...

View all postgraduate tuition fees

Funding

The tuition fees listed on this page are for the 2018/19 academic year. For information on fees for other academic years - along with information about financing your studies - please check the Fees & Funding section.

International Students should check their eligibility for our International Scholarship.

Alumni discount

A 20% tuition fee discount is available for our alumni (undergraduate and PGCE) planning to study this Master's degree. Those studying for a PGDip of PGCert are not eligible for the discount.

Additional costs

Your tuition fee will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme. Additional costs could be incurred depending on optional modules chosen and other projects undertaken.

For further information about additional costs please contact matthew.james@stmarys.ac.uk.

Further information

Previous dissertations

Previous titles of completed MA dissertations have included:

  • Wombs without borders - The Ethics of International Surrogacy
  • The Ethics of Performance Related Pay in Nursing
  • Should the rights of donor-conceived children be the ruling principle in gamete donation in the UK?
  • Creating an Ethical Framework for a Financial Market in Organs
  • Ethics of sectioning the mentally ill for their own protection
  • The Use of Pronuclear Zygotes
  • The effect of abortion on moral character
  • Professionalism and managerialism and in modern healthcare, how can they co-exist for the benefit of the patient?
  • Stem cell research
  • Is it possible to maintain a distinctive ethos in a Catholic hospital today: As demonstrated by Mount Alvernia Hospital, Guildford, UK?
  • Abortion policy for the disabled: Is it discriminatory?
  • In the patient's best interest? From paternalism to autonomy
  • The Liverpool Care Pathway
  • Genetics in the movies: how the ethical questions are being portrayed in science fiction films
  • The tyranny of autonomy
  • Daily bread and just desserts: an examination of the activity of human nourishing and eating within an ethical context
  • The Labour Government’s Policy on Teenage Pregnancy from 1997
  • Prenatal Screening and Disability: Ethical issues and discrimination
  • Ectogenesis – is it really necessary?
  • Communication in Radiography: Ethical and Legal Aspects in the UK and Malta
  • The Rest of the Surrogacy Story: Lesser-known feminist critiques of commercial surrogacy
  • Context and content of clinical photography: issues of human rights and the implications for responsible practice in the imaging of medicine
  • Physician assisted suicide in Oregon
  • Utilitarianism's critique of the sanctity of life doctrine: a world-view perspective
  • Organ transplantation - Who is the donor?
  • Defining Dignity: What is dignity and why does it matter?
  • The ethics of choice in healthcare
  • What is a good death? An exploration of issues at the end of life through phenomenological analysis of selected dramatic literature
  • Perceptions of personhood and healthcare allocation
  • Passive suicide: Towards and understanding and definition of suicidal refusals of life-sustaining treatment or subsistence requirements
  • Before virtue: Does sexual goodness exist?
  • The implantable cardioverter defibrillator at the end of life
  • Natural Embryo Loss in Human Reproduction: How much do we really know?
  • Hybrids in the Press: Media coverage of UK human-animal hybrid legislation
  • The impact of new practitioner roles in healthcare: a potential threat to professional relationships and values?