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PHH3001: Health, law and ethics

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate – Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal datesfor the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences




South Africa

  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


HSC3001, PBH2004


This unit deals with two primary aspects of professional practice in the health and social care system, namely the legal and ethical principles that govern the operation of the system and the behaviour of individuals within it. The unit commences with an introduction to the legal framework, covering common law, statute law and the legal responsibilities of health and social care professionals. Students are then introduced to the ethical framework, through an examination of ethical theory, professional ethics, confidentiality, informed consent and relationships with patients. The complex interrelationship between legal and ethical aspects of healthcare practice is explored.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge of the legal framework pertinent to healthcare practice;
  2. explain why the study of health law is an essential aspect of professional practice;
  3. discuss issues related to justice in the healthcare system;
  4. describe medical and professional ethics and different ethical perspectives as related to healthcare; and
  5. discuss the importance of confidentiality and informed consent.


  • Written assignment: Response to 10 short answer questions (2,500 words) (Hurdle) (50%)
  • Written assignment: Major paper chosen from one of three provided topics (2,500 words) (Hurdle) (50%)

Hurdle: 80% attendance at tutorials.

Workload requirements

2 hour seminar per week PLUS 10 hours of private study hours per week.

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Natasha Khamisa

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Public health – South Africa

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