LAW 2516 - Medical Law and Ethics

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2019

The course provides an introduction to ethics generally and more specifically to medical ethics, examining in particular the principle of autonomy, which informs much of medical law. The course then considers the general part of medical law governing the legal relationship between medical practitioners and their patients. It considers the legal implications of the provision of medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Selected medico-legal issues over a human life are also examined. These may include reproductive technologies, foetal rights, research on human subjects, organ donation, the rights of the dying and the legal definition of death.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2516
    Course Medical Law and Ethics
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Summer
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Incompatible LAW 2021
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description The course provides an introduction to ethics generally and more specifically to medical ethics, examining in particular the principle of autonomy, which informs much of medical law. The course then considers the general part of medical law governing the legal relationship between medical practitioners and their patients. It considers the legal implications of the provision of medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Selected medico-legal issues over a human life are also examined. These may include reproductive technologies, foetal rights, research on human subjects, organ donation, the rights of the dying and the legal definition of death.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Bernadette Richards

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    This course is designed to introduce the complex interplay between ethics and the law in the context of medical care. Students will be introduced to philosophical concepts along with legal principles which combine to protect the patient, healthcare professionals, and broad societal interest in a functioning healthcare system. Students will critically assess the role of the law in the medical context and identify the nexus between ethics and the law.

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Analyse the advanced principles of medical law, undertake self-directed legal research at an advanced level and evaluate legal and ethical information.
    2. Apply principles of medical law and ethics to complex problems, critique the operation of law in the context of medical treatment from a policy perspective, either individually or as part of a team.
    3. Structure and sustain concise and cohesive written and oral arguments for a mixed audience.
    4. Conduct legal research and analysis both independently and cooperatively in an academic environment.
    5. Analyse the impact medical law from a policy perspective.
    6. Reflect on their abilities to effectively undertake work as a member of a team.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    1. B.Richards and J.Louise, Medical Law and Ethics: A Problem-Based Approach (LexisNexis Butterworths, 2014)
    2. Materials available on MyUni
    Online Learning
    All course materials are available on MyUni and please remember to check your student email as all course-related announcements are communicated via email.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is taught intensively, with one 2 hour 'debrief' session.

    Monday 11th, Thursday 14th  and Friday 15th February and 25th February will be intensive classroom days with lectures, activities and discussion. Whilst attendance is not compulsory for passing of the course, it is strongly recommended as the sessions are interactive and will not be recorded. The material covered here is essential for the understanding and participation in the practical, interdisciplinary day. 

    Wednesday 20th February is the compulsory attendance day, failure to attend will result in failure of the course. This is an interactive, interdisciplinary day at the Medical School. You will be consulted by Medical Students during simulation activities, you will need to research and advise on specific legal and ethical issues as they arise during consultations with patients. This activity provides the basis for two of the assessment tasks.

    Thursday evening will be a 'debrief' session in which we will discuss the activity, what you learnt and your experiences.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students in this course are expected to attend every day of the course and to actively participate as the design of the course depends upong active engageement. Students will be given pre-reading and the expectation is that it will be completed. Please refer to Access Adelaide for your timetable and enrolment details.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The teaching days will involve a mix of lectures and interactive seminar style sessions. The lectures will  cover substantive law topics, these may include consent to treatment, capacity, regulation of medical professionals, organ donation, consent and the child, medical research and xenotransplantation.

    The seminar activities will explore the intersection of the substantive law and ethical considerations. They will be interactive in nature and there is an expectation that all students will attend and participate. Topics may include: decision-making in a crisis, the ethics of organ donation, regulation of innovative treatment and protection of the vulnerable.

    A comprehensive course topic list will be available at the commencement of the course.

    Students must all attend and participate in the compulsory interdisciplinary day.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    **NB: There is a compulsory attendance requirement, failure to attend the course on Wednesday 20th February will result in failure of the course.
    Assessment Task Task Type (Group or Individual)
    Due Weighting Length Redeemable Course Learning Outcome
    Legal Brief Individual

    27th February 2019 at @2pm

    15% 1,000 words  N 1,2,5
    Report Individual 27th February 2019 at @2pm 15% 1,000 words N 2,3,4,6
    Research Paper Individual 2nd March 2019 @ 2pm 70% 4,500 words N 1,2,4
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Wednesday 20th February is a compulsory attendance day, all students will be involved in a practical activity with Medical Students. This day is crucial to the achievement of course learning outcomes and forms the basis for two of the assessment pieces. Attendance is non-negotiable.
    Assessment Detail
    Research Assignment:
    A major research paper on a topic of your choosing. Topics must be approved.
    Length: 4,500 words

    Legal Brief:
    This is a legal overview of one of the issues addressed during the practical day with Medical Students. You will be given specific guidance on content.
    Length: 1,000 words

    This is a short piece containing personal reflection/report of involvement on the practical day.
    Length: 1,000 words

    Compulsory Attendance:
    All students must attend and participate in the practical day, Wednesday 20th February 2019. Non-attendance will result in failure of the course.
    Consistent with Law School policy, the primary communication mechanism for this course will be through placing announcements on MyUni. It is essential that students regularly check the announcements page for information. It is your responsibility to check MyUni regularly to ensure you have the most recent information. Any urgent information (such as unexpected cancellation of classes due to illness) will be sent to you by email as well as placed on MyUni.

    Assignments are expected to be referenced appropriately in accordance with the Australian Guide to Legal Citation.

    Feedback on the reasearch essay will be returned to students via the Turnitin portal. A marking rubric for the essay assignment( which indicates the matters the examiner will look for in the submitted essays) will be provided to all students in Week 1. Students will be notified by email when assignments can be retrieved from the Turnitin portal.

    Late Submission Penalties
    When an assessment is submitted after the due date, without an extension, 5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend and public holidays. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc.

    Word Length Penalties
    5% of the total mark possible for a written assessment will be deducted for every 100 words (or part thereof) by which it exceeds a stipulated word limit. For example, a 3,000 word essay graded at 63% will have 5% deducted if it is between 3,001 and
    3,100 words long for a final mark of 58%. If the essay is between 3,101 and 3,200 words long, 10% will be deducted for a final mark of 53%, etc. Word limits include all words in the text, in headings, in quotations, but exclude citations in footnotes.

    Any separate cover page, table of contents, bibliography or list of sources is excluded from the word limit. If the word limit is misstated, this may be regarded as academic dishonesty.

    Word counts do not include footnotes, headings or cover page information. Quotations are included in the word count.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    As a result of some student feedback there is now a combination of options for assessment with less of an emphasis on groupwork. In 2012 there was an electronic tutorial requirement but unfortunately the prgoramme that was used did not work and will not be used in 2013. For those who choose the online tutorial option they will be run through MyUni which is more stable and reliable.
  • Student Support
    The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Honesty
    Academic dishonesty is a serious act of academic misconduct. All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

    Academic dishonesty is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic dishonesty (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia.

    Academic honesty is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.