Healthcare Ethics & Law

The online MSc in Healthcare Ethics and Law provides you with an opportunity to gain a deeper and more systematic understanding of ethical and legal issues in relation to healthcare.

It allows you to explore the ethical and legal problems which you may face in work, to recognise issues raising potential legal liability and to understand healthcare practice in its legal and social context.

The programme caters for healthcare, legal, allied professionals and administrators who wish to review and update their thinking about ethical issues including medical and nursing professionals, ethics committee members, hospital administrators and officials in government department with responsibilities for healthcare. Members of the legal profession, pharmaceutical industry and other professionals such as hospital chaplains may also find the programme of benefit.

In Year 1, five modules are delivered are assessed, in nine teaching blocks from October to June.

In Year 2, three modules are delivered and assessed, in five teaching blocks from October to February.

Lectures, tutorials and case studies across Year 1 and 2 are delivered once a month on a Friday and Saturday from 9am - 5pm each day. A sample timetable is available below.

All lectures and seminars will continue to be delivered online for the 2022-23 academic year. This is subject to review for the 2023-24 academic year.

Subjects taught

• Introduction to Healthcare Ethics and Law
This module is a foundation module and introduces you to the philosophical and legal principles that underpin healthcare ethics and law.

• Autonomy and Paternalism
This module explores in detail the many changes that have occurred in the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients and examines the implications of these changes. Important themes such as patient and professional autonomy are explored as well as the implications of autonomy for confidentiality and consent

• The Beginning of Life – Ethical and Legal Issues
The aim of this module is to introduce you to the moral and legal status of the human foetus, the issues involved in termination of pregnancy and the various ethical and legal issues that arise in a range of assisted reproduction technologies.

• The End of Life – Ethical and Legal Issues
This module explores the issues which occur in the care of patients at the end of their lives. The aim of this module is to ensure that you gain a good understanding of the different ethical and legal issues that may arise in end-of-life care. It also explores how autonomy has increasingly affected decision making at the end of life and how this impacts on the responses of healthcare professionals.

• Public Health
This module introduces you to the ethical issues that arise when the topic of resource allocation is addressed. It examines the legal and ethical issues in mental healthcare, intellectual disability and neuro-ethics. Legal and ethical issues that arise in human enhancement are also explored.

• Research Methods
This module provides you with the tools and skills necessary to apply appropriate research methodologies and to complete a dissertation to MSc standard. It explores the legal and ethical issues when conducting human and animal research.

• Implications of the New Genetics
This module addresses the issues arising in genetic testing, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, human stem cell research and human cloning.

• Dissertation
At the end of the programme, you are required to submit a dissertation of 16,000 words on a topic of your choice. You will be assigned a dissertation director who will assist you in your work. The dissertation aims to encourage you to engage in more in-depth and systematic research in your chosen topic.

Entry requirements

Applicants must hold a 2.2 or higher primary degree in a relevant field or equivalent.

As part of the selection process applicants are required to submit the following supporting documentation:
• Evidence of English language qualification (where applicable)
• Third level educational transcripts
• Passport-sized photograph

Assessment Info

Your learning on each module is assessed by one of a number of methods, including coursework assignments, research proposal and a research dissertation.


2 years part-time. Online
The MSC in Healthcare Ethics and Law is delivered part-time over a two-year period. All lectures will be delivered online for 2023-24.


Year 1: €4,300*
Year 2: €4,300*

Please note

•Once you have been offered and accepted a place on the programme, a €250 deposit will be requested to secure your place. This can be paid via bank transfer, cheque or postal order.

•Your annual fees can be paid in full at the beginning of the year or in instalments as agreed with the RCSI Student Fees Office.

*Fees are subject to review annually.

Post Course Info

Your future
The MSc in Healthcare Ethics and Law will enable you to develop an understanding of the nature of ethics and law in medicine and apply the principles to your practices.

It facilitates skills development in formulating practical and well-reasoned responses to philosophical and clinical problems in medical ethics, as well as recognising and formulating alternative positions, enhancing both clinician-patient, researcher-subject and clinical teamwork relationships.

The programme also aims to further the understanding of those whose work brings them into contact with medical ethics and law, and those who wish to embark on further study or research; and to assist those who may already be involved in research and clinical ethics committees.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Daytime,Part time,Weekend

  • Apply to

    Course provider