Hot Topics in Medical Law

Subject LAWS70421 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

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

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
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: None
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 and critique 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 to 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.

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Health and medical law is constantly changing, with new technology, new treatments and new ethical issues. These developments may raise pressing concerns for health service providers, government agencies, other regulatory bodies, academics in many fields and more broadly for society. This subject will focus on a range of emerging issues. Discussion will be highly specialised with detailed analytical examination and critical reflection on relevant issues, taking account of established theories to different bodies of knowledge or practice. It will focus on Australian federal and Victorian law but include discussion of developments in other countries. The subject will be taught by Professor Loane Skene, who has more than 30 years’ experience in legal practice, law reform, policy advice and ethical analysis. She has served on numerous federal and state advisory committees, including the federal Lockhart and Heerey Committees on human embryo and stem cell research.

This subject provides a critical examination of a range of new developments in medicine and science. Principal topics will include legal and ethical issues, and current processes of legislative revision at federal and state level, relating to:

  • Reproductive technology
  • Human stem cell research and its applications
  • Biological patents
  • ‘Medical tourism’ (treatments in other countries that are not permitted in Australia)
  • The use in research of stored genetic material and cell lines
  • Direct-to-consumer genetic tests
  • Organ transplants
  • ‘Synthetic life’
  • Other topical issues that arise while the subject is being taught.

A student who has successfully completed this subject should:

  • Understand the medical or scientific basis of the new technology considered in the subject.
  • Be able to critically evaluate relevant ethical issues.
  • Have examined a range of legislation and law reports in order to appreciate underlying principles that may be relevant, particularly when there seem to be no applicable legal principles on an emerging issue.
  • Be able to suggest legal and other changes that may be appropriate to regulate the new technology.
  • Have an appreciation of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the legal framework; and other means of achieving regulatory change, such as professional guidelines.
  • Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Be able to critically analyse the ethical and legal issues in a detailed, fully referenced research essay.
  • Be an engaged participant in ongoing debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field.

Class presentation (10%)

2,000 word presentation paper (20%)

7,000 word research paper (70%) (17 June) on a topic approved by the subject coordinato

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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