University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Bioethics, Law and Policy

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION This study-unit comprises a series of lectures complemented by seminars of student case presentations.

Lectures will outline the legal instruments that regulate ethical practice by healthcare professionals and scientific researchers in the fields of biology and biotechnology. The emphasis is on current and proposed local legislation, examined in the context of existing legal instruments and ethical guidelines in Europe and in the International arena. As an introduction we will address the historical development, the role of legislation and relationship of law to the basic bioethical principles. Lectures will be thematic, introducing the legal issues in dilemmas in reproductive technology, abortion, clinical and animal research, end of life issues, health service provision, public health, health data, organ donation and consent. The study-unit will also discuss the emerging concept of the right to sexual and reproductive health, and the national strategy and policy being adopted in Malta in the context of EU regulations.

Each thematic lecture will be followed by a seminar prepared by a group of students, who are expected to present a case, with a reasoned analysis of the ethico-legal dilemmas and the proposed solutions. The class is to actively participate by critical appraisal and group discussion, following previous compulsory study at home, of the provided reading material which will form part of the formal assessment. In addition the student will choose one ethico-legal problem, from those explored in the seminars, and develop the arguments and legal solutions into a long essay assignment which will also form part of their assessment.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to introduce students to local and European legislation and policy dealing with bioethical issues in healthcare, in relationship to international standards, with a view to encouraging critical appraisal of its implementation in healthcare practice.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
a) recognise the ethical issues in the practice of healthcare and in biological sciences;
b) summarise the historical development and role of legislation related to medical and scientific practice;
c) explain the ethical principles enshrined in legislation related to medical and scientific practice;
d) explain the emerging notion of "sexual and reproductive health".

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
a) apply knowledge of the local legislative instruments to solving problems related to bioethics in medical and scientific practice;
b) analyse the practical problems encountered in the application of legislation to everyday healthcare practice;
c) critically question and evaluate ethical dilemmas and choices in medical and scientific practice;
d) discriminate between divergent opinions and solutions to ethico-legal problems;
e) argue in favour or against ethical choices in promoting legal solutions to ethical problems.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:
(availability at the Library or otherwise is indicated against each entry)

- BEAUCHAMP T.L., CHILDRESS J.F., Principles of Biomedical Ethics, Oxford University Press 1994.
- BMA ETHICS DEPARTMENT, Medical Ethics Today: The BMA's Handbook of Ethics and Law, 2nd ed.
- CAUCHI M., ELLUL B., AQUILINA K., Health, Ethics & the Law, Malta University Press 2006.
- HOPE T., SAVULESCU J., HENDRICK J., Medical Ethics and the Law: The Core Curriculum, Churchill Livingstone 2003.
- MACHIN V., Medicolegal Pocketbook, Churchill Livingstone 2003.
- SCHWARTZ L., PREECE P.E., HENDRY R.A., Medical Ethics: A Case Based Approach, Elsevier 2002.

Selection of Reference Texts:
(At Main or Health Sciences Library)

- BREEN K.J. et al, Good medical practice : professionalism, ethics and law, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
- CASH R, GUTNICK R. et al (Eds), Casebook on ethical issues in international health research, World Health Organization, 2009.
- HAGGER L., The child as vulnerable patient : protection and empowerment, Ashgate, 2009.
- KUSHNER T.K., THOMASMA D.C. (Eds), Ward ethics : dilemmas for medical students and doctors in training.
- LANTOS J.D., MEADOW W.L., Neonatal bioethics : the moral challenges of medical innovation, Johns Hopkins U.P., 2008.
- MURPHY T. (Ed), New technologies and human rights, Oxford University Press, 2009.
- SINGER P.A. (Ed), The Cambridge textbook of bioethics, Cambridge University Press, 2008.
- SPANDORFER J. et al (Eds), Professionalism in medicine: a case-based guide for medical students, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
- VEATCH R. M., HADDAD A., ENGLISH D.C., Case studies in medical ethics: decision-making, principles, and cases, Oxford University Press, 2010.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Essay Yes 10%
Presentation Yes 40%
Assignment Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Kevin Aquilina
Bridget Ellul

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 study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017
The 21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017 will be celebrated on the 5th and 6th December 2017 with two lectures delivered by Rev. Prof. Theodore Dieter.

Closing Date Dissertation Proposals
Deadline to present dissertation proposals for next Faculty Board is Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 1700hrs

Augustinian Institute Academic Year 2017-18

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Dissertation Logbook
The Dissertation Logbook can be found here.

Quick Guide for using the Chicago Style
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