Proprietary Interests in Human Tissue

Subject LAWS70400 (2012)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2012.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2012:

April, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available




Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information, contact the Melbourne Law Masters office.

Email or phone +61 3 8344 6190.

Alternatively, visit our website:

Subject Overview:

Do you own your body and its parts? As human tissue has become a valuable substance for research as well as a source of personal information, the need to regulate how it is used has become a challenging issue for the law. One possible approach is to treat body parts as property. This subject explores the ethical and legal issues surrounding the use of body parts. It explores the extent to which the courts have allowed proprietary interests in human tissue and considers how the law should develop in this area. It covers the recent case law in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and legislative controls, as well as ethical and jurisprudential perspectives on the issues.

Principal topics will include:

  • History of the body in science and society
  • Social, ethical and cultural sensitivities surrounding the body
  • Human tissue in modern research
  • Ethical issues in the use of human tissue
  • Proprietary interests and rights
  • Could you own your body?
  • Regulating the use of human tissue: cases and legislation.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Gain knowledge of the historical use of body parts up to the present day
  • Understand the social, ethical and cultural sensitivities raised by how we deal with bodies
  • Gain knowledge of the substantive law relating to the use of human tissue
  • Have explored the ethical issues arising from the use of human tissue from the perspective of individuals, medical practitioners, researchers and others
  • Understand the concepts of rights, property and ownership
  • Have analysed the inter-relationship between law and ethics in the context of what is done with body parts and tissue


Class presentation (10%)

9,000 word research paper (90%) (19 July) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Visit the Melbourne Law Masters website for more information about this subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

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