LAWS6889 - Death Law
Western attitudes toward death have undergone a remarkable transformation in the last century. For many, death now takes place in the hospital or the hospice following the decision of a doctor to cease providing treatment. As the management of death has passed from the family to health care professionals, it now makes sense to regard the moment and circumstances of death as largely medical phenomena. Moreover, as 'autonomy' has taken a dominant place amongst ethical values, it also makes sense to describe and measure death in terms of its 'acceptability' both to the dying person and his or her survivors. In tandem with these changes, technological innovations have transformed the dead or dying body into a potential source of valuable (and recyclable) biological material. These developments have thrown up new and urgent challenges for legal understandings about the timing of, and criminal responsibility for causing, death both within and outside medical settings. These developments have also disturbed conventional understandings of the corpse as sacred.
- Examine the new and urgent challenges for legal understandings about the timing of, and criminal responsibility for causing, death both within and outside medical settings.
- Interrogate these and other contemporary challenges for the law relating to death and dying both within Australia and, where appropriate, other selected comparator jurisdictions (US, UK and Canada).
- Examine socio-historical understandings of the changing meaning of death, dying and serious disability in Western societies, and reflect on the broader legal implications of these developments.
Death in contemporary Australia; the legal definition of life and death; medical futility and the concept of `lives not worth living'; euthanasia (with and without request); physician-assisted suicide; refusing and withholding life-prolonging treatment in adults and children; the Shipman/Patel scandals; ownership of the corpse and body parts; dead donor organ transplantation; organ sale and theft; posthumous reproduction; `mercy' killing outside medical settings; the jurisdiction of the Coroner.
Semester 1 Intensive
20, 21 April & 11, 12 May 2017
The timetable is subject to frequent changes. Please refer to the latest version of the Postgraduate Timetable.
- class presentation (10%)
- 2000 word essay (30%)
- take-home exam (60%)
You can credit this unit towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Units of study that are part of Sydney Law School’s Postgraduate Program meet the necessary Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) of the Law Society of New South Wales and the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements of the New South Wales Bar Association. You may complete this unit of study by enrolling on a non-degree basis or on an audit basis only with no assessment via Single Unit Study.