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LAWS357 Law and the Biosciences

A critical examination of laws governing select fields of biomedical science, including patenting, hazardous substances and new organisms, and reproductive genetic technology.

Bioscience and biotechnology are burgeoning fields that may provide significant benefits for society, but may also pose multifaceted ‘risks’ (physical, environmental, cultural, moral). This paper considers the the role of law in mediating this relationship. It considers and critically analyses issues such as,

  • How does the current law balance the need to encourage research and innovation on one hand, against the need to ensure public access to beneficial inventions on the other?
  • How does the current law facilitate the conduct of beneficial research and development, whilst mitigating risks (physical, cultural, environmental, political) that are posed by the creation and/or use of new organisms?
  • How does the current law respond to advances in reproductive genetic technologies, particularly in respect to choosing, and potentially changing, the next generation of human offspring.
  • How, and if so to what extent, does the law recognise, accommodate, and promote, te ao Māori views in respect to new biomedical technologies?
  • Paper title Law and the Biosciences
    Paper code LAWS357
    Subject Law
    EFTS 0.1000
    Points 15 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $710.30
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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    96 LAWS points
    Pre or Corequisite
    Any 200-level LAWS paper not already passed
    Limited to
    LLB, LLB(Hons)

    96 LAWS points


    Teaching staff

    Dr Jeanne Snelling

    Paper Structure

    The paper will critically consider legal frameworks governing biomedical technologies including,

    • Hazardous substances and new new organisms.
    • Patenting of biotechnological inventions.
    • Reproductive genetic technologies.
    Teaching Arrangements

    This paper is taught on campus (2 lectures per week)


    Course readings via eReserve

    Course outline

    To be confirmed

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised

    Scholarship; Critical thinking; Global perspective; Cultural understanding; Lifelong learning; Interdisciplinary perspective; Research and information literacy .
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will,

    • Have an understanding of the challenges of regulating biomedical technologies.
    • Will be familiar with specific statutory frameworks governing biomedical technologies in New Zealand.
    • Will gain an appreciation that the way in which nations engage with, and regulate, bioscience research and development reflects different approaches towards, and prioritisation of, cultural values and political objectives

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    Not offered in 2023

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system