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Course length

1 year full-time, 36 months part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The Durham LLM in Medical Law and Ethics explores some of the most intellectually challenging and sensitive areas of medical practice and science and, at the same time, develops your legal and ethical knowledge and skills in areas which continue to grow in significance. The course has been developed by specialists in the field who not only deliver the course, they are also involved in setting the legal agenda.

While the course is led by the School of Law, you will have the opportunity to study modules from other departments, ensuring you will gain a broad appreciation of the relevant areas of law and ethics.

You will also benefit from the research strengths and reputation of Durham’s Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences. As a Medical Law and Ethics student you will be invited to become a member of this vibrant team and encouraged to take part in the many activities organised by the Centre.

During the first two terms you will study taught modules selected from a wide variety of topics and then you will complete your studies by writing a dissertation on a medical law-related topic of your choice, under the supervision of a member of staff with expertise in your selected subject area. 

Modules delivered by other departments are diverse and include Divergence, Deviance, and Disability in 19th Century Literature, the Anthropology of Global Health and the Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine.

Teaching is a mixture of lectures and smaller, student-led, seminar or tutorial groups, taught by lecturers who are actively researching in the areas that they teach, and the dissertation is undertaken on an independent basis. We anticipate that students attending the course will be drawn from a broad range of countries and disciplines and believe that their diverse academic and professional experiences will enrich the course.

Course Structure

Core modules:

Contemporary Issues in Medical Law and Ethics underpins the course and aims to cultivate a critical appreciation of the legal and ethical difficulties raised by modern medical practice. Starting with an introduction to medical ethics, you will consider what it means when we say something is ethical. You will also look at the leading theories on ethics and how they apply to controversial issues in medical practice. This will be followed by a study of consent, obstetric intervention, medical treatment of children, reproductive genetics and decisions around end-of-life treatment.

Applied Research Methods in Law provides specialised knowledge on the latest research methods and skills used in legal studies as well as an advanced understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and of their relevance for different forms of legal research. The module also creates a framework within which you will be able to critically assess potential research topics and, importantly, where you will be able to design, discuss and develop a detailed research proposal of the appropriate standard for your dissertation.

The Dissertation is based on your particular research interests in an area of Medical Law and Ethics and can be of one of three lengths – 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 words. Depending on the length chosen, the dissertation is equivalent to 2, 2.5 or 3 modules.

The remainder of the course is chosen from an extensive range of optional modules from the School of Law and other departments across the University. Indicative optional modules include:

  • Advanced Issues in Human Rights (Law)
  • Advanced Issues of International Intellectual Property Law (Law)
  • Anthropology of Global Health (Anthropology)
  • Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities (Arts)
  • Contemporary Issues in Biolaw and Bioethics (Law)
  • Divergence, Deviance, and Disability in 19th Century Literature (English)
  • Ethics, Medicine and History (Philosophy)
  • Frontiers in Biolaw (Law)
  • Gender Theory and Feminist Philosophy (Philosophy)
  • Illness as Narrative Practice (English)
  • International Perspectives on Law and Gender (Law)
  • International Protection of Human Rights (Law)
  • Introduction to Intellectual Property Law (Law)
  • Medical Law and Ethics (Law)
  • Neurodiversity and the Humanities (English)
  • Phenomenology and The Sciences of Mind (Philosophy)
  • Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine (Philosophy)
  • Protection of Human Rights in Europe (Law)
  • Risk, Science and Communication (Geography)
  • Science and The Enlightenment (Philosophy)
  • Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience (Geography)
  • Social Policy and Society (Sociology)
  • Society, Health and Wellbeing (Anthropology)


This course involves a combination of taught core and option modules, delivered via a mixture of lectures and seminars, as well as a substantial dissertation.

Lectures are used primarily to introduce topics and introduce you to the main debates and ideas. They provide you with a framework of knowledge that you can then develop and analyse through your own reading and study.

Seminars are smaller-sized, student-led classes. You are expected to carry out reading prior to classes and are usually set questions or problems in order to apply the knowledge you have developed.

In addition to taught modules, you must produce a dissertation of up to 20,000 words which is the output from your own independent research on an area of medical law and ethics that is of particular interest to you.


The majority of modules are assessed by essays and project work. Some modules may include presentations and exams as part of the assessment process depending on the options selected. 

You will also complete a dissertation on an area of medical law and ethics of interest to you. Depending on the route chosen your dissertation can be anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words, and is worth between one-third and one-half of your total mark.

Entry requirements

At least one of the following:

  • A good 2:1 degree (or its equivalent) in a relevant subject (for example law (or in a degree in which law is a major component), anthropology, medicine and allied professions (nursing, pharmacy…), sociology and philosophy
  • Active enrolment on an intercalated UG/PG medical degree programme

Students whose native language is not English must show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 7.0 or higher in IELTS with a minimum of 7.0 in the writing component and a minimum of 6.5 in all other components.

Students from EU member states whose native language is not English may show evidence of general proficiency in the English language by normally achieving 102 or higher in TOEFL with a minimum of 27 in the writing component and a minimum of 25 in all other components. 

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,750 per year
EU students £26,900 per year
Island students £12,750 per year
International students £26,900 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £7,100 per year
EU students £14,800 per year
Island students £7,100 per year
International students £14,800 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Law School

Our global reputation for legal research and teaching of the highest quality is reflected in the career trajectory of our alumni.

Graduates serve across the full range of legal professions including solicitors, barristers, judges, members of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and as consultants and in government. Others have secured stimulating and rewarding positions in national and international law firms.

We are fully aware of the degree of competition that exists in securing a role in the legal profession and the School provides a range of resources to help alumni stand out as ideal candidates during the recruitment process. This includes detailed information about the steps involved in becoming a solicitor or barrister, visits from law firms and guidance on preparing for interviews and assessment days.

Department information

Law School

Durham Law School is a global leader in the development and framing of law. Led by academics who are experts in their field, we carry out cutting-edge legal research that feeds into our Masters and research qualifications, building knowledge and nurturing the skills needed to help shape law in the future.

The reputation of the School means our legal know-how is respected by parliamentarians and policy makers around the world. Our academics have been called to give evidence in Parliament and have had their research work quoted by courts and international bodies.

International law and questions of global policy and governance are an area of special interest at Durham, but our expertise extends to other areas including criminal law and criminal justice, ethics, human rights, European law, gender and law, Chinese law, Commercial and Corporate law and Global Justice.

The research-led learning environment in the School is one of commitment, innovation and passion for the subject. Our highly respected research groups organise lectures and seminars offer opportunities to hear from eminent scholars and practitioners. Speakers have included judges from the UK Supreme Court, from the European Court of Justice and leading officials from national and international institutions.

For more information visit our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 6th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • Top 10 in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Law School pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 5th in the UK for research environment
  • 100% of our research impact and environment was rated world-leading or internationally excellent


Situated close to a number of academic departments and University services with views of the magnificent Durham Cathedral as well as offering easy access to the historic city, we believe that we have one of the most striking and best-equipped law buildings in the UK.

The Law School is located in the University’s award-winning flagship Palatine Centre, part of a £48.4m sustainable building development.

The School’s facilities are purpose-built and state-of-the-art, featuring a moot court, pro bono room, Harvard-style Hogan Lovells lecture theatre, spacious dedicated work suites and modern wireless and audio-video-enabled research spaces and attractive social areas.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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