Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module LAW45715: Frontiers in Biolaw

Department: Law

LAW45715: Frontiers in Biolaw

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide a critical introduction to the relationship between law and bioscience/healthcare.
  • To provide a critical introduction to major contemporary issues in healthcare and the life sciences.
  • To develop critical awareness of regulatory options in relation to contemporary issues in biolaw.
  • To develop research skills and contextual awareness of how law might be most effectively used in bioscience and healthcare.


  • This module explores the ability of the law to adequately respond to the ethical, social and policy challenges presented by contemporary biomedicine, bioscience and healthcare.
  • Topics will change annually but will address a range of contemporary issues in bioscience and healthcare. Examples of the topics that could be covered include human cloning and mitochondrial replacement therapy, conscientious objection to medical activities, dignity and biolaw, medical devices, gene editing and health, surrogacy, genetic testing of the early human, access to medicines and patent law, free movement and access to medical services, and stem cell research.
  • The topics will engage with domestic, international, comparative and European legal materials, as appropriate.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of issues of particular contemporary significance in the regulation of bioscience/healthcare.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between bioscience/healthcare and regulation.
  • Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the significance of law in its wider social context.
  • Critically analyse the law and literature relevant to recent developments and potential developments in the regulation or socio-scientific bioscience/healthcare.
Key Skills:
  • Students should gain the ability to research, analyse and understand legal materials and the literature relevant to particular issues in biolaw.
  • Undertake independent research.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Each topic will begin with a lecture aimed at imparting information and guiding students through the material they will have to research and analyse. Through discussion-led lectures and seminars the students will be invited to draw on their existing legal knowledge and engage with domestic, international, comparative and European legal materials, as appropriate.
  • The relevant learning outcomes will be achieved through:
  • Monitoring the student’s understanding of the material and providing additional guidance where necessary;
  • Enabling students to develop a critical view of the material covered through the formative essay and discussion-led lectures/seminars.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures/seminars 8 Weekly during Michaelmas 2 hours 16
Preparation and reading 134
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3,000 100% 3,000 words different title

Formative Assessment:

An essay outline for the summative assessment will be marked as formative assessment. Word length 1,000

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University