Skip to content

12 months full-time; 24 months part-time

Application Deadline

Overseas fee payers: 1 July | Home fee payers: 19 August


St George’s, University of London

UK, EU and non-EU

(International) citizens may apply

Start dates

9 September 2024

Discover how ethics and law impact the practice of medicine while exploring past, present and future issues in healthcare.

Advanced technology. Resource distribution pressures. Demographic changes. There are always new challenges facing healthcare practice and biomedical research. Could you help science and medicine adapt and work for the common good?

We’ve designed this degree to give you an overview of the ethics, law and humanities behind science and medicine. You’ll cover a wide range of topics, from legislation on areas like assisted suicide to the future of medicine and the use of AI. You’ll also be able to pick from optional specialised modules exploring pressing clinical and global issues.

As well as learning from our leading academics, you’ll hear from professionals who worked or collaborated with national and international organisations. Recent guest lecturers have included the chair of a clinical ethics committee, a negligence lawyer and an organiser of public consultations for the Human Tissue Authority.

Transform the future of healthcare

You might be a recent graduate in a related area. Or a medical student wishing to intercalate. Perhaps you’re a healthcare professional with an interest in this area or you want to use this degree as a stepping stone into law and further academic work. 

We’ll give you the foundations for lifetime training and education in medical ethics, law and the humanities. Whatever you decide to do next, your insight will help change the way healthcare is practised, regulated, and understood by the public.

Why St George’s?

  1. Unique perspective – we’ve created a course that looks at the past, present and future of medical and scientific innovation, global health, and the biomedical sciences and their regulation.

  2. High-quality training – you’ll be taught by medical ethics and law experts, global health researchers and specialists in different areas of the humanities. You’ll benefit from teaching that draws on our research strengths and history as a long-standing medical training institution.

  3. Diverse optional modules – enjoy the freedom to explore your areas of interest through optional modules. Look at areas such as medical humanities and arts, neuroethics, and humanitarian action ethics.

Want to know more?

Find out more about postgraduate study at St George’s, University of London by registering for our introductory email series.

Course content

Ethics, professionalism and law strongly impact medicine. Studying with us, you’ll apply analysis of these areas to challenges facing today’s world and healthcare systems.

We’ll introduce you to different methods of medical humanities and how they can be used to look at areas like the doctor-patient relationship and experiences of illness. At the same time, you’ll explore key ethical and legal issues and underlying concepts in professional practice.

What makes this degree unique? Our modules look at the current issues in healthcare, as well as the history of medicine and its influence on research today. We’ll also focus on the future and how technology like AI will transform the healthcare of tomorrow.

Freedom to explore your interests

Your research project will be the chance to explore an area that interests you. The ethics of vaccine nationalism, debates around genomics or the depiction of disease in art are just a few examples.

Because of our diverse expertise, our academics support a range of projects. Maybe your project will be supervised by a historian who specialises in medicine. Or perhaps a medical lawyer will be able to share their extensive expertise to bring your research to life.

Entry criteria

To be considered for this course, you will need to:

  • meet the entry criteria
  • write a personal statement
  • provide two suitable references

Undergraduate degree or equivalent

You should have or be expected to achieve, a minimum of a second class degree (2:2). For healthcare graduates, a pass is required. All degrees must be awarded before 1 August on the year of entry.

Intercalating students

Applicants who do not have an undergraduate degree but are current medical students who have successfully completed 360 credits (or equivalent) including at least 120 credits at Level 6 (or equivalent) of their medical degree are also eligible to apply.

International qualifications

We accept equivalent qualifications gained in other countries.

Please see our Postgraduate International Equivalencies. For countries not on this list, we use UK ENIC to assess. Please see our International Student Support pages for more information.

If you have any questions, you can contact us at

English Language

This is a Group 1 course.

Full details can be found on our English Language requirements webpages.

Personal statement and references

You will be asked to outline your reasons for applying for the course in a brief personal statement on the application form. You will also need to provide two satisfactory references. See the ‘Apply’ tab for more information.

Course structure

By designing the course as a series of related but independent modules, we can deliver a highly flexible programme allowing you to tailor your studies to match your interests and career aspirations.

You can also accrue the appropriate amount of credits to achieve the intermediate awards of Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) or Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip), building on each qualification over time to achieve your full master’s degree.

The MA is made up of 180 credits and can be studied over one year full-time or two years part-time. You will study four 15-credit compulsory modules common to all students, which will introduce you to applied reasoning in medical ethics and law (Medical Ethics and Law), methods in humanities (Introduction to Medical Humanities) and provide a historically grounded and future-looking perspective on medicine and biomedical sciences (History of Medicine, Future of Medicine Ethics). ). In addition, you will be able to choose from a range of optional modules. When selecting optional modules, you will need to ensure that half the optional modules focus primarily on the humanities and that half the modules focus primarily on ethics and law. You will undertake a research project in a topic linked to your themed degree.

For the PgDip (120 credits), in addition to the compulsory modules, you must choose additional modules to the value of 60 credits. Half of these optional modules must focus primarily on the humanities and half must focus primarily on ethics and law.

Course start date

The course will start with enrolment and induction activities on 9 - 10 September 2024. Topics covered will include the virtual learning platform, library and careers service as well as course specific sessions. There will also be keynote speakers and a social event where students from a variety of postgraduate taught courses can get to know each other.

Compulsory modules

View all Close all

Medical Ethics and Law (15 credits)

This module explores the ethical and legal issues and underlying concepts in the professional practice of healthcare professionals. This Medical Ethics and Law module is Core to the MA programme, as the knowledge base and associated ethico-legal reasoning skills are considered to underlie all other course elements. It is best conceived of as the practical application of moral philosophy to the clinical arena, with critical examination of associated key legal aspects of healthcare practice.  

Introduction to Medical Humanities (15 credits)

The module introduces key skills and approaches which support students in making the most of the other modules, introducing key methods and approaches in medical humanities. The module will also demonstrate the use of various methodological approaches such as narrative, ethical, philosophical, visual or literary analysis to understand key aspects of healthcare practice and research such as the doctor-patient relationship, experiences of illness, trauma, self, medical treatment and healing. 

History of Medicine (15 credits)

This module will introduce you to the major developments in medical practice and medical thought, as well as the main methodological approaches and debates in the field of medical history. Founded in 1733, St George’s was the second medical school in England to train doctors, allowing us to draw - where appropriate - on St George’s primary archival and other historical sources. The module will give a broad introduction to the early western medical tradition but focus principally on the modern period from 1700 to the present, giving an opportunity to think comparatively about the modern construction of the history of a western tradition of medicine and biomedical research. 

Future of Medicine Ethics (15 credits)

In this module, you will learn how to approach ethics of new medical practices, technologies and developing science, aiming to construct proactive (as opposed to reactive) approaches to ethical analysis and regulation. Technical advances over the last century tremendously changed the practice of medicine. This development continues - today’s medicine is being changed by information technology as well as convergence in neuroscience, genetics, data science, AI and robotics. Cutting-edge science slowly makes its way to the bedside, with recent advances such as IVF, mitochondrial replacement therapy, AI and assistive robots.  How will the practice of biomedicine look like in the future? How will we be born, live and die in the increasingly information-technological biomedical landscape? How should medical care look like in the future? The Future of Medicine Ethics module is a space to examine key trends in the development of medical technologies and associated ethical challenges, as well as develop ethically-informed recommendations for future practice. 

Research Project (60 credits)

You will conduct an independent research project in an area of interest to you. The module covers preparation and planning for the research as well as the analysis, discussion and presentation of the outcomes of the research. You will be supervised by an experienced academic based at St George’s, and will have a chance to either address a topic of pre-existing interest, or be supported in developing a research idea from conception to fruition. This will help to develop and apply a range of transferable, professional and analytical skills.  

Optional modules

Depending on the amount of credits needed, you will choose from the list of optional modules below.

View all Close all

Clinical Ethics and Law (15 credits)

In this module you will look at the ethical, legal and social aspects of clinical practice. Reflecting on the key concepts that underpin ethical thinking about clinical practice (such as autonomy, paternalism, consent), and discussing ethical and legal dilemmas in clinical practice from the beginning to the end of life provides an opportunity for in depth ethical consideration of clinical practice. Students will also gain tools for a systematic approach to analysis of ethical cases.  

Research Ethics and Law (15 credits)

While scientists enjoy generally high level of public trust, a reflective and engaged approach to ethics in research is necessary for science that aims to deliver public good, scientific knowledge and medical advances. In this module, you will focus on ethical and regulatory aspect of biomedical research. You will gain understanding of the history and rationale for research regulation, reflect on the purpose, role and limitations of our regulatory practices and learn about relevant law, regulation and philosophy. By understanding and critically examining key philosophical and ethical aspects of research ethics and regulation, you will also have an opportunity to engage with current issues affecting scientific and medical research. Key moral theories, concepts and approaches used in research ethics will provide a methods toolkit for this important area of analysis.   

Global Health Ethics and Law (30 credits)

This module considers global health from an ethico-legal perspective. You will learn about cosmopolitanism, nationalism, distributive justice, consequentialism, deontology and human rights theory, using different theoretical approaches to analyse a range of global health challenges. You will also learn about the emergence of global health law and the way in which international law impacts on a range of global health issues. 

Humanitarian Action Ethics (15 credits)

The effects of humanitarian crises are increasingly globalised, as seen with recent trends in migration and forced displacement. Aid workers now respond to increasingly complex crises in which decision making and action can be adversely affected by the changing nature of conflict, climate change or disasters. In addition, humanitarian organisations can come under pressure in volatile political situations, especially when they are structured by extreme religious ideology. This module recognises that humanitarian action is a cross-cultural endeavour, fraught with ethical challenges and conducted against a backdrop of health injustice and vulnerable populations. 

Finding a Leg to Stand On (30 credits)

This module is a new, innovative collaboration between clinicians and artists from St George’s, University of London and academic staff from Birkbeck, University of London. Using an applied medical humanities’ approach, in which the different Humanities disciplines (philosophy, cultural studies, literary studies, sociology, history of art) and Medicine are used as lenses through which to analyse illness, human experience and clinical practice, this module will take the leg as its primary focus. The leg, as a tangible example of a component of the body, allows us to explore the ways in which bodies are constructed culturally, clinically, politically and experientially. The module will explore ideas such as surface and depth, normality and abnormality, presence and loss, visibility and invisibility, beauty and ugliness, illness and health. It will examine the relations between culture, society, the body and illness. What does it mean to be and have a body? How do we speak about and define bodily experience? What happens when the body fails? How do we diagnose and treat the body? Patients and healthcare practitioners might answer these complex questions in very different ways, and yet understandings of those questions underpin medical practice and the experience of patients.  

Neuroethics (15 credits)

In this module you will look at the last decades of swift developments in neuroscience, cognitive science and neuro-technologies from an ethical perspective, and examine some of the most interesting challenges brought forward by modern medicine. Since its conception in 2002, neuroethics as a discipline aimed to address ethical and social challenges raised by the recent boom in neuro- and cognitive science and reflect on the impact of neurotechnologies on patients and the society at large. Brain imaging in clinical practice and research raise issues of privacy, confidentiality and communication of incidental findings. ‘Pictures of the brain’ seem to ‘fire up’ not only neurons of research participants but also viewers’ imagination, and facilitate research on the neural correlates of various cognitive functions, sometimes changing our understanding of what it means to have a ‘free will,’ ‘be responsible’ or even ‘be dead’. But how clinical and non-clinical applications of neurotechnologies impact our autonomy, agency and are the benefits of scientific research and access to those technologies justly distributed? Should we engage in cosmetic pharmacology, pharmacological mood brightening or cognitive enhancement? During the module students will engage with those problems, and gain ethical reasoning tools, concepts and perspectives necessary to address those current questions. 

Culture and Mental Health (15 credits)

In this module, you will learn how mental health can be improved worldwide using different cultural frameworks of mental illness. You will analyse the global development of a mental health framework from an ethical, transcultural and human rights perspective. As part of this analysis, you will explore the theories and principles of humanitarianism. You will also discuss the issues of stigma and the medicalisation of mental disorders, using case scenarios and examples of localised cultural practices in the interpretation and management of mental health. 

Global Health Humanities (15 credits)

In this module, you will examine different aspects of the humanities in global health: narrative-based medicine; the role of the humanities in medical education; cross-cultural concepts of health and illness; exiled writers and health activism; therapeutic aspects of health humanities; cultural competency; global narratives; and story-telling for trauma. You will reflect on and consider topics that you personally perceive as being crucial for global health, and the role of narrative for bringing health injustice and human rights abuses to light for various organisations. During the module you will also learn about the role of narrative in promoting health, particularly in societies facing conflict, oppression and lack of healthcare resources. 

Imagining the Other (15 credits)

Loss, death and bereavement are three of the most extreme and difficult experiences anyone faces. For doctors and other health and social care workers these complex phenomena must be confronted on an almost daily basis. This module uses textual representations of loss, death and bereavement to explore these key issues. We will examine how far reading literature can help us understand the experiences of others i.e., to what extent and in what way can any of us “imagine the other”. We will consider these experiences both in terms of the formation of personal identity and in terms of challenges to an established sense of self and the mutability of personal identity over time. Students will be able to choose from a broad range of literary texts on these themes, complemented by consideration of other art forms, and will compare these to carefully chosen and accessible examples of clinical literature and practice. 

Module availability

It is possible that certain modules listed on the course page may not be able to run due to a variety of reasons, such as availability of specialist academics or patterns of student demand, including limitations due to minimum or maximum class sizes. The University will ensure that all affected parties are notified of any changes as soon as possible and propose relevant alternative options if necessary.


Lectures are just one of the ways we teach. You can also expect lots of interactive sessions. These might be workshops where you carry out case analyses or discussions about challenges in ethics. Throughout the course, we’ll help you become confident learning independently too. This will be important for when you carry out your research project and focus on an area that interests you.


Your learning will be assessed in a range of different ways. As well as written tasks like essays or reports, you’ll deliver presentations and create a reflective analysis of a piece of art, podcast or another form of media.


St George’s is home to experts in medical ethics, law, and the humanities, as well as global health. You’ll learn from academics carrying out key research, as well as practitioners from St George’s Hospital and guest lecturers.

Our researchers are exploring a range of healthcare challenges from HIV and mental health to issues around justice and economic marginalisation in community health. You’ll also meet academics who focus on areas like secure hospital care for inpatients, as well as criminal lawyers who look at reproductive ethics.

We’re exploring how humanities can be used to foster creativity in medicine. Our Open Spaces events programme is an evolving extra-curricular programme bringing together science, medicine and healthcare with the arts, humanities and enterprise.


Everything you need for success in the health and life sciences profession is here – from opportunities to learn from professionals working on the clinical frontline to cutting-edge laboratory facilities and bio-imaging technology.

We’re the UK’s only university dedicated to medical and health sciences education, training and research. We share our site with a major London teaching hospital. This means you’ll become part of a unique clinical and academic research community, mixing with the many different healthcare professionals you will go on to work alongside throughout your career.

Library and learning technology

Our library is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ll find silent, quiet and group learning spaces, as well as group discussion rooms.

We have a wide range of books, e-books, academic journals and other resources. You’ll also have access to online resources, such as the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment and our Hunter discovery service.

Need accessibility equipment? The library also loans noise-cancelling headphones, laptop stands, coloured overlays, desktop whiteboards, and more.

IT facilities

We have an extensive range of IT facilities, including:

  • 260 workstations in five computer suites, three of which are open 24 hours a day
  • 75 self-service laptops available
  • Free Wi-Fi covering the whole campus, including our halls of residence accommodation.

You can use these resources to access your course materials, discussion boards and feedback through Canvas.

Looking for a free space? Simply use our handy real-time computer locator.

Pathology museum

Our on-site Museum of Human Diseases houses a collection of over 2,000 pathological specimens, including those donated by Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie in 1843. This space is used for small group tutorials exploring the mechanisms of disease.

University of London

BLOOM@Senate House

As St George's is part of the University of London, you have access to BLOOM@Senate House, a unique space in the heart of Bloomsbury. Senate House offers a central London base which is particularly useful if you’re studying or living further out. The area has great transport links, making it easy to access from anywhere in London or further afield.

Senate House Library

Students can join the Senate House library free of charge. Your membership includes a 10-book borrowing allowance, access to all reading rooms and study areas, and on-site access to digital resources.

Student support

From day one, you’ll become part of a community of staff and students of different ages, ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. Everyone you meet will have one thing in common – a passion for healthcare, science and medicine.

Whether you’re an existing healthcare professional, returning to education after a break or joining us after graduating from an undergraduate degree, we want to help you make the most of your time here. To do this, we offer a full range of academic support and student services.

Careers service

We offer 1:1 career guidance to undergraduate and postgraduate students at every stage of your professional development, from the start of your course through to graduation and beyond. As a student, you’ll also benefit from career development activities that are specifically tailored to your course.

What we offer:

  • Career guidance: We offer 30-minute 1:1 careers guidance sessions to support you in your career planning, build your confidence, and help you identify next steps on your career journey.
  • CV and application advice: We can review your applications with you, support you in presenting yourself to potential employers, tailor your applications to a particular role and help you stand out from your competition.
  • Practice interviews: Work on the content, structure, and delivery of your answers, whether that’s motivation questions, competency questions, role-specific questions or Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
  • Interactive workshops: Our career education workshops are tailored and delivered within courses. Topics may include understanding the graduate job market, learning through reflection on career decision-making, making successful applications and making an impact at interviews.
  • Careers fairs: These are opportunities to explore career paths in different areas and specialities, meet with employers, and have valuable conversations to inform your career thinking.
  • Online support: We offer specific information tailored to each course, plus general careers support and resources relevant to whatever your career choices and direction via our Canvas Virtual Learning Environment.

Cost of Living

We know that this may be a worrying time for our students and their families. Our Cost of Living Hub contains the latest information to our community affected by the rising cost of living. We provide students with various financial support, budgeting advice as well as employability options.

Disability support

If you require reasonable adjustments or disability services, you can find information on our disability information for students pages. For any further information please contact the disability adviser.

The Graduate School

Our Graduate School brings together postgraduate students from different disciplines, allowing you to support and learn from each other while expanding your professional networks.

The Graduate School works closely with our research institutes and provides opportunities for personal and professional development. You’ll also have access to a postgraduate common room where postgraduate students and early career researchers can study and socialise.

Induction programme

Our induction sets you up for your studies and helps you feel part of the University. As well as course-specific activities, we run an online ‘Get Started’ module which provides information about:

  • Social and enrichment activities
  • Student safety
  • Wellbeing and learning support
  • Study skills
  • Our library facilities
  • Careers and employability services

International student support

Our International Students Support service is part of the Student Life Centre and provides information on visas, settlement schemes, enrolment and more. To find out more, visit our EU and international support pages.

If you’re an international student, get in touch with the team as soon as you accept your offer via

Mental health support

St George’s has a confidential, free and impartial counselling service available to all students. You can also access services through our Student Life Centre and our online resources. This includes links to NHS resources, apps, podcasts and websites dedicated to mental health and wellbeing.

Personal academic tutor

When you start your course, we’ll allocate you a personal tutor. This is a member of the academic team who you’ll see regularly to monitor your progress and pick up any problems, both academic and personal. Even if they don’t have the answer, they’ll point you in the right direction towards the support you need.

Student Ambassador Scheme

Our Student Ambassadors support student recruitment events, widening participation activities such as Science Stars and schemes such as Unibuddy Reps. Our Student Ambassadors also help with one-off or less regular events and creating student generated content like blogs and videos.

Student Life Centre

Our Student Life Centre team can help you with every aspect of student life including:

  • Finances
  • Accommodation
  • Exams and assessment
  • Academic procedures
  • Admissions
  • International queries
  • Disability and wellbeing
  • Confidential counselling service

Your personal tutor can also signpost you to relevant support.

Students’ Union

St George's Students' Union (SU) is an independent organisation run by students for students. The SU runs a wide range of events and is home to the SU Bar and Shop, music room, dance studios and meeting rooms. The team also provides welfare support for all students, with an open-door policy.

Want to join a sports team? Eager to try something new? We encourage you to take part in the wide range of sports, social and cultural activities and events on offer. From fencing to hockey, yoga to hiking, we have over 100 clubs and societies so you can be sure to find something that will interest you.

Our popular ‘Mums and Dads’ buddy scheme is organised by the Students’ Union. Every first year has the choice of being assigned a ‘parent’ from the year above in their respective course. The returning student acts as a go to for advice about courses and university life.

Students with children

Juggling study and parenthood can be difficult, particularly if you’re taking a demanding medical or healthcare degree. Our Student Parents and Carers Empowered (SPACE) society is a group run by studying parents that meets monthly to support each other and discuss how to balance family life with studying. For more information, email the SPACE society.


We’re here to help you develop the academic skills you need to succeed and make the most of our library collections.

  • Sessions and tutorials on literature searches, keyword searches and using databases
  • Training materials for academic planning, reading and writing to develop key transferable skills
  • 1:1 meetings for a tailored approach to your academic support needs


By the end of this course, you’ll be able to analyse, appraise and address ethical, legal and social challenges in medicine and biomedical research.

Clinicians might use this degree to secure roles leading ethics education at medical schools, as a stepping stone to further training or to prepare to carry out projects involving public engagement.

If you’re not from a clinical background, you’ll be a great match for roles in policy forums, science journalism and public engagement. Other students decide to use this degree to support their PhD applications and carry out vital research in this area.

With expertise in ethics, law and humanities, you’ll be a great fit for roles in a range of organisations:

  • Academic institutions
  • Hospitals
  • Local or national government
  • National health services
  • Civil service and national ministries of health
  • NGOs and bioethics think-tanks
  • Professional bodies
  • Third-sector organisations

Fees and funding

In this tab you will find the financial information for this course of study, including details of financial support.

Tuition fees

2024 UK (home)

  • Full-time MA: £10,450
  • Part-time MA (2 years): £5,550 per annum
  • Full-time PgDip: £7,100
  • Part-time PgCert (1 year): £3,750

2024 International (including EU)

  • Full-time MA: £15,950
  • Part-time MA (2 years): £8,450 per annum
  • Full-time PgDip: £10,850
  • Part-time PgCert (1 year): £5,750

We do not expect students to incur any extra costs over and above those that we have advertised on the course page. To get the most from your studies, you will need your personal computer or laptop and an internet connection in your home. Find out more about technology requirements.

Funding your study

We have a range of funding opportunities available for students. You may be eligible for the following.

How to apply

Before beginning your application please check the entry criteria of the course you wish to study to ensure you meet the required standards.

Applications must be submitted through our online application system, which you can access below. Guidance on submitting an application can be found on our how to apply webpage.

Access our online application system

1. Select the relevant application link and create an account:

2. Once you have created your account, you will then be able to complete an application form and upload any relevant documents. You can save a partly completed form and return to it later. Please make sure you complete all sections. Please also make sure that the information you provide is accurate, including the options you select in menus.

3. Add to your address book to ensure you do not miss any important emails from us.

4. When you have checked that your application is complete and accurate, click ‘submit’

You can track your application through your online account.

View all Close all

Guidance for completing your references

When completing your application, you will be asked to provide contact details of two referees. Please ensure these details are accurate. As soon as you have submitted your application, your referees will be contacted by the university asking them to upload a reference to your online application.

One must be a recent academic reference. The other should be either a second academic reference or a professional/employer reference. They should cover your suitability for the course and your academic ability.

Your referees should know you well enough, in an official capacity, to write about you and your suitability for higher education. We do not accept references from family, friends, partners, ex-partners or yourself.

We will send reminder emails to your referees but it is your responsibility to ensure that contact details are correct and referees are available to submit a reference. References should be uploaded within two weeks of making your application.

Apply now


12 months full-time; 24 months part-time

Application Deadline

Overseas fee payers: 1 July | Home fee payers: 19 August

Find a profileSearch by A-Z