In Year 1 Modules 1-5 are delivered and in Year 2 modules 6-8 are delivered. On successful completion of assessment of each module and completion of a dissertation participants will be awarded the MSc in Healthcare Ethics & Law.
Module 1: Introduction to Healthcare Ethics & Law
Healthcare Ethics Theory provides an introduction to the range of concepts and theories in healthcare ethics. Participants will be introduced to the major contemporary perspectives, relate these perspectives to selected ethical issues in medicine and science and be introduced to or become familiar with research methods in healthcare ethics, in preparation for more sustained independent study. Topics to be covered will include: (i) principles of healthcare ethics, (ii) deontology and consequentialism, (iii) autonomy, (iv) theories of justice and rationing and (v) alternatives to principlism, including narrative and virtual ethics and feminist ethics. Healthcare Law provides introduces some of the central issues in healthcare law which arise in relation to almost every interaction between health carers and patients. Topics will include: (i) introduction to law and legal methods, (ii) introduction to consent, including competence/incompetence, informed consent and voluntariness, (iii) introduction to treatment of the incompetent patient, comprising both incompetent adults and minors, (iv) introduction to confidentiality and patients' rights of access to healthcare records and (v) introduction to clinical negligence.
Module 2 The Beginning of Life Ethical & Legal Issues
This module explores a range of ethical, legal and professional issues at the beginning of life. Participants will explore: (i) when does human life begin? (ii) the ethical and legal status of the embryo and foetus (including termination of pregnancy, genetic testing/screening and research) and (iii) ethical and legal issues surrounding assisted reproduction including reproductive technologies, surrogacy, professional and regulatory guidance.
Module 3 Autonomy and Paternalism
Is paternalism ever acceptable? Is lying to patients always wrong? To what extent should patients have control over their own medical treatment? To what extent should doctors use their discretion to keep information from patients? Topics covered include medical negligence, ethical and legal issues raised in consent to treatment, confidentiality.
Module 4 The End of Life Ethical and Legal Issues
A range of ethical, legal and professional issues at the end of life are explored: (i) moral and legal issues surrounding the definition of death (e.g. "brain death" and its relevance to organ transplantation), (ii) moral issues at the end of life, especially arguments for and against euthanasia, (iii) legal and professional issues at the end of life, including the legal and professional guidance relating to euthanasia, refusing, withholding and withdrawing treatment, and administering potentially fatal drugs, as well as arguments for and against current legal and professional responses.
Module 5 Public Health
Areas normally covered include justice and resource allocation, research ethics, discrimination and healthcare, organ transplantation, issues raised by new technologies. There is normally a session that looks at a topical issue in public health policy.
Module 6 Research Methods
This module will provide participants with the tools and skills necessary to apply appropriate research methodologies to complete a dissertation.
Module 7 Implications of the New Genetics
This module explores the new genetic advances in science and their implications for ethics and law such as genetic testing, stem cell development and cloning.
Module 8 Dissertation
Participants will complete a dissertation on a major subject of their own choice within healthcare ethics & law.
The programme is awarded by the National University of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The programme is at Level 9 of the National Framework of Qualifications.