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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 weeks placements of the other clinical modules. Teaching will take place within the clinical module placement hours and assessment module Science into practice course. On-line tutorials are flexibly. This module focuses on developing the critical thinking skills and the 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 assessments within this module will focus on these areas. The BM programmes are however 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 stand alone modules and therefore this module should be recognised by teachers and students alike as part of the whole year and programme. The Clinical Ethics and Law Module in year 4 of the BM programmes is studied along with 5 other clinical teaching modules in Acute Care, Psychiatry, Specialty Weeks, Obstetrics & Gynaecology/GUM and Child Health and the Science into practice course within a Year 4 assessment module. 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 4 assessment modules have been purposely designed to assess learning outcomes covered in any of the 5 clinical modules from the year. The module will be taught throughout the year mostly within clinical module placements but with additional learning activities alongside these. 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 weaknesses and/or they have had fewest 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 [1.2d,1.3d, 1.4d, 2.1g, 2.2g, 3.1a, 3.1c]
  • 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 [1.5d, 2.2j, 2.3h, 2.7c, 3.1a]
  • Justify the actions that you would take after exploring ethical and legal dilemmas in clinical practice [2.2f, 2.2g, 2.2i,]
  • 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 [1.2c, 1.3c, 1.4d, 2.1f, 3.1b, 3.1f, 3.4b]
  • Explore and discuss the ethical arguments surrounding euthanasia, assisted suicide and abortion and outline the associated legal principles [3.1a, 3.4c]


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 • On-line group tutorials • Guided independent reading and study

Independent Study187.5
Total study time187.5

Resources & Reading list

BMA ethics department (2012). Medical Ethics Today: The BMA’s handbook of 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.

BMEU – Kassel.


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


BMEU – Kassel.


Assessment Strategy

Assessment of students’ learning is both formative and summative: 1. An in-course written group assignment: exploration of a clinical case. This will be undertaken during a 4-week group on-line tutorial session and submitted at the end of this period. Each group will choose a case to work on and then students can support each other to develop their thinking and write up a group piece of work for submission and feedback. This is an optional assessment task but is intended to provide written feedback to students in preparation for the end of module examination. Each group will be allocated a tutor who will provide advice during the tutorial session and give feedback on the group’s submission. Maximum 2,000 words. 2 End of module examination: structured essay based on a clinical case or cases: 1½ hour examination. Students will need to pass this examination in order to pass the module. 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 4 Written Exams • Year 4 Clinical Module Assessments • Finals Assessment


Group case


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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