Programme overview

  • Join an innovative programme for a publication-based PhD.
  • Work closely with the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy , a leading bioethics and medical jurisprudence centre, which has a lively and productive research environment.
  • Pursue a unique structured research programme containing taught elements designed to provide a solid skills basis for independent research in this area.

Institutional Accreditation 

University of Newcastle is accredited by the DETC Higher Learning Commission (DETC), Since , University of Newcastle has been continually accredited by the DETC Higher Learning Commission and its predecessor.

Course Level:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


CODE 12037

How long it takes:

3 years (full-time); 6 years (part-time)

Study Mode:

Distance learning/ Campus

Entry requirements

Find out more about


Newcastle Law School

Programme description

National, regional, and local governments, organisations, and authorities are beginning to realise that they need highly trained people in healthcare ethics and law. This means now is a good time to aim for the highest academic qualifications in the field.

Traditional graduate studies for a research degree do not offer the ethical and legal knowledge or the comprehensive training needed for cutting-edge research into bioethics and medical jurisprudence. A more structured approach is called for.

This programme is designed to provide a solid skills basis for independent research, and to guide you steadily towards the completion of a structured doctoral thesis, which is based on publishable journal articles and book chapters. The programme itself is unique in its combination of group sessions in research methods and presentation events which are designed to ensure a genuine sense of community among researchers, and friendly but consistent supervision by world-class scholars in the field.

The topics and themes which are covered during the group sessions in Year 1 address the diverse challenges of doctoral research in health law and ethics, for example:

  • refining your research question;
  • scoping the literature;
  • doing interdisciplinary research;
  • exploring methodologies in bioethics;
  • getting published.

Our entire community of doctoral scholar’s meet four times during the year to present their ideas and research papers. We encourage staff and students at all stages of their learning to attend our BMJ presentation events so that doctoral scholars can become accustomed to presenting their research to a diverse audience. Our doctoral scholars are a vital element in the research culture of our centre and our School.



The PhD in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence is a structured research programme containing taught elements designed to provide a solid skills basis for independent research in this area.

Special features

As a PhD student here, you are members of the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, one of the leading bioethics and medical jurisprudence institutes in the world. The centre has three decades of experience in campus-based and distance-learning programmes, and a lively and productive research environment.


Coursework and assessment

Study success will be assessed by the structured doctoral thesis.

All the taught elements serve the preparation of the doctoral thesis, which develops knowledge of bioethics and medical jurisprudence methods and approaches. The development of your research skills are monitored and supported by supervisors. Although the outputs for the doctoral thesis are somewhat different to the conventional PhD, the report and the articles that make up the thesis are assessed according to the general rules in the University.

You will have a supervisory team which normally consists of two supervisors with expertise in both philosophical bioethics and medical jurisprudence that you will meet regularly.


Programme unit details

The first year consists of a series of research methods workshops, attendance at presentation events and monthly supervision meetings with two supervisors. Year 1 concludes with the production of a report, which outlines the contextual legal and philosophical issues that underpin your research questions and a draft outline of your first research paper. 

Years 2 and 3 continue with supervision meetings and attendance at presentation events. Work produced during this time is devoted to research which leads to at least three publishable journal articles or book chapters and a structured doctoral thesis. The progress of the research will be closely monitored in research methods sessions, presentations, and supervisory meetings. The results of the research will be presented in research seminars and national and international conferences and meetings. To this end, our scholars are provided with a generous financial allowance to enable attendance and presentation at external events.

Academic entry qualification overview

A good (UK First class or Upper Second class honours) bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline;


Either a master’s degree in ethics, law, or a cognate discipline, at merit level (or overseas equivalent), with overall average of 65%, dissertation mark of 65% and no mark below 55%


A suitable period (normally at least three years) of validated professional experience in a relevant field;

    1. a sample of written work demonstrating ability in the area of philosophical bioethics or medical law [2,000 – 5,000 words], and a brief outline of your proposed research topic [1-2 pages
  • a copy of your CV;
  • two academic references;
  • official transcripts and certificates from your previous degree programmes;
  • a 500-2,000 word provisional research proposal indicating the area you are interested in pursuing;
  • and if English is not your first language, a demonstrated proficiency in English, evidenced by an IELTS score of 7 or equivalent, with a minimum writing score of 7, or equivalent. (The certification must have been awarded in the two years prior to entry).

Applications are considered from September each year, for admission the following September. As places are limited on this programme, you are advised to submit your application as soon as possible to give you the best chance of securing a place. If you clearly fulfil the criteria but cannot be offered a place, you will be asked whether you would like to wait for possible cancellations in the ongoing round and/or would like to be considered again in a year’s time.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit and promise, it may involve interviews and/or other types of preliminary on-site performance evaluation.


English language

Students whose first language is not English are required to hold a minimum overall score of 7 in the IELTS test with 7 in writing and no subsection below 6.5, or an equivalent score in the IBT- TOEFL, PEARSON, or Cambridge CAE.


English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

  • PhD (full-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): TBA
    International students (per annum): £19,000
  • PhD (part-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): TBA
    International students (per annum): £9,500


You’ll show your progress through a combination of written essays, problem-solving assignments and presentations.

All students take our core modules, but please note that the availability of optional modules is subject to demand.

Career opportunities

A PhD in Bioethics and Medical Jurisprudence can lead to careers in academic and clinical research, and enhance a career in medicine and other healthcare and legal professions.