University of Technology Sydney

76045 Medicine and Law

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Law
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 70311 Torts AND 70617c Administrative Law
The lower case 'c' after the subject code indicates that the subject is a corequisite. See definitions for details.
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses.
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.
Anti-requisite(s): 77734 Law and Medicine AND 78148 Law and Medicine


This subject deals with the aspects of law relevant to health care. There are many issues that can arise as health law is an ever evolving and diverse area. It is subject to both local and overseas influences and regulation is challenging. When studying health law, many areas must be considered, such as: human rights, ethical practice, the advancement of medical technology, social policy, governance and the many vested interests. The subject examines the issues that confront health-care professionals and their patients and peers, in particular in the context of continuing systemic and resource problems. This includes the handling of complaints against health-care practitioners, the regulation of the various health professions, the outcome of parliamentary inquiries and the history and findings of the various royal commissions. Other important areas such as medical negligence, consent to treatment, access to and ownership of medical records, privacy and confidentiality, euthanasia, wrongful birth, wrongful life and abortion, complementary and alternative medicine, organ donation, public health law issues such as tobacco, alcohol and obesity are examined and discussed.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Build and elaborate on basic legal concepts acquired in previous law core subjects and apply them in the area of health care law;
2. Identify, locate and research issues in relation to consent, access to medical records, negligence, privacy and confidentiality, abortion, wrongful birth, wrongful life, euthanasia, mental health, complementary and alternative medicine, organ donation, public health and the influence and challenge of medical technology innovations
3. Identify and critically evaluate the systemic issues that impact on health professionals
4. Communicate effectively, orally and in writing, in face-to-face as well as in online contexts, the issues facing healthcare professionals in their day to day practice, including the way in which law impinges on their decision-making processes

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes which reflect the course intended learning outcomes:

  • Critical Analysis and Evaluation
    A capacity to think critically, strategically and creatively, including an ability to identify and articulate legal issues, apply reasoning and research, engage in critical analysis and make reasoned choices (LAW.3.0)
  • Research skills
    Well-developed cognitive and practical skills necessary to identify, research, evaluate and synthesise relevant factual, legal and policy issues (LAW.4.0)
  • Communication and Collaboration
    Effective and appropriate communication skills, including highly effective use of the English language, an ability to inform, analyse, report and persuade using an appropriate medium and message and an ability to respond appropriately (LAW.5.0)

Teaching and learning strategies

Strategy 1: Face to face teaching in a small group environment, with short lectures given where appropriate to provide background and/or to explain and elaborate on complex issues, as well as to support and respond to student-led learning activities.

Strategy 2: Class discussions (online and face to face) to provide an opportunity for students to critically explore, analyse and reflect on the issues arising from the topics

Strategy 3: Independent study and research; students are expected to prepare for classes by reading set materials and engaging with online resources as appropriate and come to class ready to participate and engage in informed discussions

Strategy 4: Student-led learning activities including short presentations, low stakes informal peer assessment, and small group collaboration.

Content (topics)

  • Introduction to Health Law - What are the major legal and ethicalissues?
  • The legal obligations of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals; disciplinary matters and Inquiries; Royal Commissions
  • Consent to medical procedures - adults, children and those lacking mental capacity
  • Doctor’s duty to provide information - Open disclosure; negligence issues anddefences
  • Injuries caused by Medical Treatment - negligence
  • Access to medical records - ownership issues/FOI
  • Privacy and Confidentiality
  • Withdrawal of treatment and Euthanasia
  • Abortion and wrongful birth /wrongfullife
  • Medical Technology and Devices
  • Genetics and Law
  • Organ donation; Definition of death; Inquiries


Assessment task 1: Class Participation


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3 and 4

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.3.0 and LAW.5.0

Weight: 10%

Assessment task 2: Oral presentation


To test students understanding of the relevant subject matter -To develop and evaluate skills of critical analysis -To develop and improve verbal communication and presentation skills


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 3, 4 and 5

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.3.0, LAW.4.0 and LAW.5.0

Weight: 15%

Maximum of 20 minutes for presentation. Questions and discussion are permitted and encouraged after presentations.

Assessment task 3: Written component


To test understanding of a topic area; to develop and evaluate skills of critical analysis; to develop and improve written communication skills


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 3 and 4

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.3.0, LAW.4.0 and LAW.5.0

Weight: 25%

2500 words plus or minus 10% excluding footnotes. A one page bibliography is required (Not counted in the word count).


Marking criteria will be placed on UTS Online with the questions

Assessment task 4: Final Examination

Intent: To test knowledge and understanding of material studied in subject

This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3 and 4

This task contributes specifically to the development of the following graduate attributes:

LAW.3.0, LAW.4.0 and LAW.5.0

Weight: 50%

Required texts

This semester the prescribed text book is:

Health Law in Australia 3rd ed White, McDonald & Willmott, Lawbook Co., (2018)
ISBN: 9780455238753

You can also use:

Health Law: Frameworks and Context, Farrell, Devereux, Karpin and Weller, Cambridge University Press (2017)

ISBN: 9781107455474

You may also refer to the texts listed below in recommended texts.

The law specialist librarian can assist with textbooks and library resources -

Recommended texts

Allan S and Blake M, Australian Health Law, LexisNexis, 2018. Bennett B (ed), Health, Rights and Globalisation, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006. Bennett B, Carney T and Karpin K (eds) Brave New World of Health, The Federation Press, 2008. Devereux John, Australian Medical Law (3rd edition) Routledge -Cavendish Publishing, 2006. Freckelton I, Petersen K (eds), Disputes and Dilemmas in Health Law, The Federation Press, 2006. Freckelton I (ed), Regulating Health Practitioners, The Federation Press, 2006. Freeman M, Children, medicine and the law, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2005. Freeman M, Law and Neuroscience, Current Legal Issues Vol 13, Oxford 2011. Freeman M, Goodenough O, Law, Mind and Brain, Ashgate 2009. Forrester K and Griffiths D, Essentials of law for Health professionals, Elsevier 2005. Garland B, Neuroscience and the Law, Dana Press 2004. Herring J, Medical Law and ethics, Oxford University Press, 2006. Kennedy R, Allied Health Professionals and the Law, The Federation Press, 2008. Kerridge I, Lowe M and Stewart C, Ethics and Law for the Health Professions, 4th edition, The Federation Press, 2013. McLean S (ed), First do no harm, law, ethics and healthcare, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2006. McIlwraith J and Madden B, Health Care and the Law, 6th edn. Lawbook 2014. Reynolds C, Public and Environmental Health Law, The Federation Press, 2011. Skene L, Law and Medical Practice: Rights, Duties, Claims and Defences, 3rd edition, LexisNexis Butterworths, 2008. Spranger T, International Neurolaw, A Comparative analysis, Springer 2012.

Other resources

Other Materials: Reports, Journals and General References

  • Journal of Law and Medicine –Lawbook online
  • Halsburys Laws of Australia-Medicine
  • Journal of Traditional-Medicine Society
  • British Medical Journal- BMJ online
  • Journal of Medical Ethics Legal Medicine
  • Torts Law Journal
  • Medical Journal of Australia-
  • Australian Health and Medical Law Reporter

Useful Websites