1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Comparative Health Law

Comparative Health Law (LAWS90057)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90057
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject provides an opportunity to learn about how different societies grapple with common challenges in health care systems and to consider whether and how these comparisons can be helpful in guiding change within a particular system. While human biology is similar worldwide, the economic, social, and ethical aspects of health care are reflected through the prism of each society’s culture, history and political framework. The legal responses to these economic, social and ethical debates therefore can vary from one society to another. This subject will explore comparative approaches to topics ranging from the structure and financing of the health care system to legal aspects of reproduction and death. The subject, while referencing Australian approaches, will use Canada and the United States as the base for comparison and will explore the approaches adopted in other countries as well.

Professor Bobinski recently completed serving as the Dean of the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She has taught Comparative Health Law in Canada and the United States. She recently served as the President of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics and as a member of the Canadian Public Health Officer's Ethics Advisory Committee, and previously directed a top-ranked health law program in the United States.

Principal topics will include comparative approaches to health law and policy rules in areas such as:

  • The right to health and health care financing
  • Regulation and/or licensing of health care professionals
  • Quality of care
  • Contraception, abortion and sterilisation
  • Fetal conflicts
  • Assisted reproduction, including the implications of advances in genetics
  • Consent to or refusal of care, including cases involving death and dying
  • Public health law including traditional aspects (eg contagious diseases) and new areas such as public health approaches to obesity.


Intended learning outcomes

The overall goals of the subject is to provide students with: (1) an advanced and integrated understanding of the range of health laws and policies governing some of the key issues in selected countries, including recent developments in this field of law and practice; and (2) an advanced understanding of the techniques of comparative legal analyses along with a critical perspective regarding the risks and benefits of comparative approaches in health law.

Students successfully completing this subject will be able to demonstrate:

  • Advanced knowledge about some of the key issues and debates in health law and policy in selected jurisdictions, including recent developments
  • The ability to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these laws and policies
  • An advanced understanding of variations and major approaches to significant and contested health law and policy topics
  • The cognitive, technical skills and analytic skills to independently examine, research and analyse comparative health law approaches along with an advanced critical understanding of the benefits and limitations of comparative analyses
  • The ability to engage at a high level in debates regarding legal and policy approaches to emerging issues in areas ranging from health care finance to bioethics
  • A sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving health care law reform and the use of comparative health law analyses
  • The analytical and communication skills to present a comparative health law analysis and to debate the risks and benefits of a comparative approach to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • The ability to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of comparative health law.

Last updated: 26 July 2019