University of Otago logo
  • Tuition Fee:
  • Local: n/a
  • Foreign: n/a
  • Languages of instruction:
  • English

    Photos of university

    The Master of Bioethics and Health Law (MBHL) degree is an interdisciplinary postgraduate programme which consists in writing a research dissertation under supervision and completing papers worth an additional 105 points from a schedule of papers. The degree may be awarded with distinction or credit.

    The degree draws on the resources of both ethical and legal theory, and attends to bioethical problems arising from the increasing use of technology in medicine and changes in the resourcing and delivery of health care.

    Subject Areas

    • Bioethics
    • Law

    Duration of the Programme

  • Full-time candidates shall pursue a programme of study of not less than twelve months and part-time candidates shall pursue a programme of study of not less than twenty-four months.
  • A candidate will normally be expected to satisfy the requirements for the degree within three years of admission to the programme. A candidate may apply to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) for extension of this time limit by up to one year.
  • Examination of the Dissertation

  • The dissertation shall be assessed by at least two examiners. The candidate's supervisors shall not normally be examiners but may make a report on the work of the candidate for the examiners to consider.
  • Where examiners cannot agree on a result, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) shall arrive at a decision after consulting a referee.
  • If the dissertation is deemed unsatisfactory the Pro-Vice-Chancellor may, on the recommendation of the examiners, recommend that it be revised and resubmitted by a specified date.
  • The candidate may be required to take an oral examination in the field of knowledge in which the dissertation lies.
  • Level of Award of the Degree

    The degree may be awarded with distinction or with credit


    The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) may in exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the Board of Studies, approve a course of study which does not comply with these regulations.

    Structure of the Programme

  • The programme of study shall consist of
  • papers from the schedule to a value of not less than 105 points; and
  • a dissertation.
  • The Board of Studies may in special circumstances approve papers for the degree which are not listed in the schedule.
  • A candidate who has previously completed two or more papers listed in the schedule for another completed qualification may be exempted from a paper or papers up to a value of 30 points.
  • A candidate transferring credits for Law papers from another university shall be required to complete at least one of LAWS 447, LAWS 448 or LAWS 480.
  • The programme of study, the topic of the dissertation and the proposed supervisor shall be submitted to the Board of Studies for its approval.
  • A candidate shall submit the dissertation by 1 April of the year following that in which the work for it is commenced.
  • Papers for the Degree of Master of Bioethics and Health Law


    • BITX 401 Theories of Biomedical Ethics; and
    • BITX 403 Issues in Law, Ethics and Medicine; and
    • LAWS 447 Law and Medicine; and

    At least one of

    • LAWS 311 Family Law
    • LAWS 448 Law and Psychiatry
    • LAWS 467 International Human Rights Law
    • LAWS 480 Research Paper;

    and any papers listed in this schedule including the following to make a total of least 105 points:

    • BITX 404 Ethics and Health Care
    • BITX 405 Bioethics in Clinical Practice
    • BITX 406 Health Research Ethics
    • BITX 407 Advanced Health Research Ethics
    • BITC 410, BITC 411, BITC 412 Special Topics; and
    • BITC 890 MBHL Dissertation


    Admission to the ProgrammeAdmission to the programme will be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) following consultation with the Board of Studies for the degree.Every applicant shall be a graduate in Law or Medicine, or hold an Honours degree in Philosophy, or have qualifications and experience acceptable to the Board of Studies for the degree.

    University of Otago Coursework Master's Scholarship

    The University of Otago Coursework Master's Scholarship provides funding to support course work-based Master's students studying at the University of Otago.


    Applicants must be:

    - obtaining their first Otago Coursework Master's qualification

    - domestic students or international students

    - undertaking a papers based thesis*

    * Coursework Master’s Scholarships are not available for the papers year of a two-year research Master’s degree.

    Selection is based predominantly on academic merit and the applicant’s potential for research.

    Similar programs: