Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Ethics and Jurisprudence

LEVEL 04 - Years 4, 5 in Modular UG or PG Cert Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit comprises an introduction to forensic medicine with emphasis on forensic pathology topics of medico-legal importance, notably wounds, unnatural deaths and forms of abuse, with a view to appreciating the value of medical evidence in criminal investigation.

Study-unit Aims:

The main aim of the study-unit is to teach students the medico-legal issues encountered in the criminal justice system and the role of medical and scientific evidence.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Outline the principles of medico-legal investigation, with emphasis on the local system;
2. Discuss the legal issues necessitating investigation of a death and disposal of a body;
3. Discuss the pathophysiology of death and the interpretation of the changes after death;
4. Outline general and specific identification procedures;
5. Describe the pathological classification of wounds;
6. Discuss the role and value of medical evidence in gunshot injuries, road traffic accidents, asphyxial deaths, deaths in water, thermal injuries, abortion and poisoning;
7. Discuss the medical evidence to be collected in cases of abuse: children and elderly abuse, sexual abuse and torture;
8. Outline the role of forensic science in a forensic investigation;
9. Identify the relevant local legislation in relation to medical practice, bodily harm, abuse and poisoning.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
1. Distinguish between the mode and the manner of death;
2. Apply basic pathological concepts to assess the time of death;
3. Distinguish between the types of injuries;
4. Interpret traumatic injuries in terms of legal significance;
5. Interpret the legislation relevant to bodily harm and death, investigation of deaths, collection of evidence, abuse and poisoning, in relation to clinical cases.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

Simpson's Forensic Medicine, Richard Shepherd (12th Ed), Hodder Arnold, ISBN 0340764228.


Knight's Forensic Pathology, (3rd Ed) Saukko P. and B. Knight (2004) Hodder Arnold, ISBN 0340760443.
Clinical Forensic Medicine, W. McLay (3rd Ed) Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521705681.
Crime Scene to Court The Essentials of Forensic Science, (2nd Ed) Ed. P.C. White, Royal Society of Chemistry, ISBN 0854046569.

A very good forensic web site:
Maltese Legislation web site:
Internet Resource for Forensic Pathology (also for pathology) photos and tutorials

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Ind Study & Ind Online Learning

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 20%
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 80%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.