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The University of Southampton

MEDI3052 Clinical Ethics & Law

Module Overview

The module will run throughout the year with a variety of activities occurring during the 8 and 4 week placements of the other clinical modules. Teaching will take place within the clinical module placement hours. This module focuses on developing critical thinking skills, clinical ethics and law knowledge and understanding that is required to enable to you address ethical and legal problems/dilemmas in practice, as an F1 doctor and beyond. The assessment within this module will focus on these areas. The BM programmes are highly contextualised and integrated programmes in which the application of knowledge and understanding, clinical skills and professional practice applicable to medicine are learned through a range of modules, none of which are standalone modules and this module should be recognised by teachers and students alike as part of the whole year and programme. The Clinical Ethics and Law (CEL) Module in year four of the BM programmes is studied along with five other clinical teaching modules in Acute Care, Psychiatry, Speciality Weeks, Obstetrics & Gynaecology/GUM and Child Health. This module is assessed as part of the Year 4 synoptic assessment. The emphasis of the assessments for each of the modules aligns with the focus of learning for that module, however the integrated nature of the course means that there will undoubtedly be overlap and aspects of the assessment in each module will draw upon learning from modules studied in earlier years as well as modules studied in that year. In addition, the CEL module and Year Four assessment modules have been purposely designed to assess learning outcomes covered in any of the five clinical modules from the year. The module will be taught throughout the year within clinical modules. The timing will vary for different student groups and the teaching staff will vary for different trusts and student groups. As is the nature of clinical placements, the exact learning experiences of each student will be variable, however all students will receive the same broad opportunities sufficient to achieve the learning outcomes of the module and it is expected that students will take responsibility for making the most of the opportunities provided and being pro-active in securing experiences in areas in which they feel they have weak and/or they have had least learning experiences.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explore the concepts of autonomy, consent, capacity, best interests, confidentiality and justice in different clinical situations
  • Discuss ethical and legal dilemmas or problems in a range of clinical contexts and from a variety of different perspectives, drawing on ethical and legal principles and GMC guidance
  • Justify the actions that you would take after exploring ethical and legal dilemmas in clinical practice
  • Critically examine potential conflicts that may occur when attempting to balance the interests of the individual, the family and the wider community, drawing on a range of scenarios
  • Explore and discuss the ethical arguments surrounding euthanasia, assisted suicide and abortion and outline the associated legal principles


In order to meet the learning outcomes, the syllabus will contain teaching in ethical and legal issues arising from the following broad areas: • Human rights • Distributive justice: rationing and priority setting in specific country settings; community v individual interests • Child health: rights and interests; capacity, consent and refusal of treatment; confidentiality; role of parents/carers; child protection • Mental health: capacity; detention; restraint • Beginning of life: maternal/fetal conflict; personhood; contraception; reproductive technologies and genetic testing; neonatal care; conscientious objection • Towards the end of life: dignity; concepts of ‘futility’ and ‘quality of life’; euthanasia and assisted suicide; withdrawing and withholding treatment; advance decisions and lasting power of attorney

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be taught through a range of learning and teaching strategies which will include: • Interactive lectures • Facilitated seminars/tutorials • Reflection and discussion of cases • Guided independent reading and study

Independent Study187.5
Total study time187.5

Resources & Reading list

BMEU – Kassel.


BMEU – Kassel.


Johnston C & Bradbury P (2016). 100 cases in clinical ethics and law. 

BMEU – Kassel.

Blackboard. Resources for this module will be signposted to you through the Blackboard Page for this module. An indicative content is provided below, however the blackboard module will provide the most up to date guidance on resources for this module.

BMEU – Kassel.

Wilkinson D, Herring J & Savulescu J (2019). Medical Ethics and Law. A curriculum for the 21st Century. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessment of students’ learning is both formative and summative: 1. Formative Opportunity: an in-course case based discussion workshop ‘Clincial Ethics and Law Cases Surgery’ to explore and analyse clinical cases. This will be undertaken on the final Friday at the end of each attachment – four times a year. Students will bring and reflect on a case from their clinical attachment that has an ethico-legal component and, as a group, we will analyse the case, drawing on professional guidelines, ethical principles, statutory and case law to determine the most appropriate course of action to resolve the ethico-legal issue. Students will be provided with a framework and use critical thinking skills to resolve a case through group discussion and tutor guidance. This will provide structure and preparation for the summative assessment at the end of the year. This is an optional task but is intended to provide verbal feedback to students in preparation for the end of module assessment. 2 Summative assessment: an end of module written paper assessment analysing clinical ethico-legal issues. Students will have one week and access to all the resources they will need (open book) to structure and justify their responses. Students will need to pass this examination in order to pass the module and progress to final year. ADDITIONAL ASSESSMENT OF THIS MODULE LEARNING As stated in the overview section, the integrated nature of the BM programmes means that material learnt within this module may be assessed in other modules. In particular material from this module may be assessed in the following modules. • Year four written exams • Year four and five Clinical Module Assessments • Finals Assessment, including OSCEs


Case Study Analysis


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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