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.
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.
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.
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
- Collaborative based assessments
- An unseen written examination (in the case of medical law)
- 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