Medical Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Cressida Auckland


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

Medical law is a rapidly developing and increasingly important subject. The unprecedented restrictions on liberty during the pandemic, and the very real possibility that the NHS might run out of ventilators became central political issues in 2020. New technologies, such as genome editing, egg freezing and face transplants, are invariably accompanied by demands for their regulation. In this course we examine the legal framework within which health services are provided, and we explore some of the difficult legal and ethical dilemmas that arise when determining the limits of medical innovation.

Subjects include resource allocation; public health; malpractice litigation; consent; mental capacity; medical decision-making for children; mental health law; confidentiality; clinical research; the regulation of medicines; organ transplantation; embryo and stem cell research; abortion; assisted conception; preimplantation genetic diagnosis; surrogacy and end-of-life decision-making.


This course is delivered through a combination of weekly one-hour classes and weekly 1.5-2 hour lectures across Autumn Term and Winter Term. All teaching in 2023_24 will be in-person. This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Autumn Term and Winter Term.

Formative coursework

At least one formative (unassessed) essay per term.

Indicative reading

Jackson, Medical Law: Text, Cases and Materials, 6th edition (Oxford UP, 2022).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours and 30 minutes) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 117

Average class size 2022/23: 15

Capped 2022/23: Yes (120)

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills