Available in 2021
Course code



10 units


5000 level

Course handbook


This course introduces students to key legal and policy topics relevant to the delivery of health care and bioethics. Key topics include: legal foundations of the health care system; international human rights laws and the right to health; consent to health care and medical treatment; genetic technologies and regulations; human reproductive technologies; public health, including infectious and chronic disease control; and end of life care. The course focuses on the contemporary Australian context and incorporates some international comparative material and international human rights laws.

Availability2021 Course Timetables

Newcastle City Precinct

  • Semester 2 - 2021

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Explain key legal principles relevant to the fields of health law studied in this course, including principles of consent, bodily integrity, and public health regulations.

2. Apply critical analysis and problem-solving skills to a range of health law and policy problems

3. Compare and contrast different legal and policy approaches to addressing health law problems with regard to international human rights laws.

4. Critique and justify options for law reform and engage with public policy to suggest amendments or alternatives to the existing rules and practices in health law.

5. Develop written and oral communication skills consistent with the conventions of the legal discipline and the high expectations of academic integrity.


The topics covered in this course are: 

  1. An introduction to principles of healthcare law and ethics
  2. Autonomy, informed consent and the right to refuse treatment
  3. Access to health care for vulnerable communities
  4. Mental health laws
  5. Healthcare decisions for children and young people
  6. Pregnancy and the law; including reproductive technologies, access to abortion care and refusal of treatment during pregnancy
  7. Health care liability, negligence and patient safety
  8. Genetics and research involving human participants
  9. Global health and pandemics
  10. End of life care and the right to dignity in death


This course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.

Assumed knowledge

LAWS1010, LAWS1011, LAWS1020, LAWS1021, LAWS2030, LAWS3040, LAWS3041, LAWS4001

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Written Assignment

Online Learning Activity: Weekly Reflections

Participation: Participation

Proposal / Plan: Research Proposal

Contact hours

Newcastle City Precinct


Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.