Health Law and Emerging Technologies

Subject LAWS70421 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 7 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

February, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start 11-Jan-2016
Teaching Period 10-Feb-2016 to 16-Feb-2016
Assessment Period End 11-May-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 14-Dec-2015
Census Date 10-Feb-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 01-Apr-2016

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the Melbourne Law Masters website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24-26 hours
Total Time Commitment:

136-150 hours

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.


Melbourne Law Masters Students: None

JD Students: 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 Student Equity and Disability Support.


Prof Loane Skene



Professor Loane Skene (Coordinator)

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 on 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 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 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
  • Genomic health care and bioinformatics
  • Organ transplants
  • Other topical issues that arise while the subject is being taught.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the medical or scientific basis of the various emerging technologies considered in the classes.
  • Be able to critically evaluate, analyse, interpret and assess relevant ethical and legal issues arising from those technologies.
  • Have an advanced understanding of issues of human rights, equality of access to health care and potential discrimination that may arise in emerging technologies, including in an international context
  • Have examined a range of legislation and law reports in order to understand underlying principles that may be relevant when new technologies emerge, particularly when there seem to be no applicable legal principles in an emerging area.
  • Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts
  • Be able to suggest legal and other changes that may be appropriate to regulate emerging technologies.
  • Have an advanced understanding of the factors and processes driving parliamentary revision of the legal framework; and other means of achieving regulatory change, such as ethical and professional guidelines.
  • Have advanced communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information to specialist and non-specialist audiences; and to be an engaged participant in ongoing debates regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field.
  • Be able to critically analyse ethical and legal issues arising from new technologies in a detailed, fully referenced research essay.
  • Class presentation (10%)
  • 2,000 word presentation paper (20%) (2 March)
  • 7,000 word research paper (70%) (11 May) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator

A minimum of 75% attendance is a hurdle requirement.

Prescribed Texts:

Specialist printed materials will be made available free of charge from the Melbourne Law School prior to the pre-teaching period.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Health and Medical Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Juris Doctor
Master of Health and Medical Law
Master of Law and Development
Master of Laws

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