Module lead: Prof Johanna Gibson
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This seminar-based module examines the categories of intellectual property and the sources of intellectual property law (national, regional, and international) relevant to medical research, development and public health. In particular, the module examines the way in which intellectual property developments interact with ethical and socio-economic aspects of medicine, development and human rights (in particular the right to health, the right to development and access to medicines). Students will be introduced to patent law, trademarks and other related aspects of intellectual property laws relevant to medical innovation, research, and public health. Discussion topics will consider especially the relationship between intellectual property frameworks and the various industries contributing to medical innovation, the possible interaction with research practices and developments, and the consequences for various questions of public health, including individual property, access to products and information and human rights in health and development.

The module is intended to introduce students to the wider socio-economic and policy environment for legal regulation of medicines and their commercial markets, with a particular emphasis on intellectual property, pharmaceuticals and access to medicine. Students will also be provided with the tools to understand the various overlapping and conflicting rights, in particular competition law and human rights, including the right to health, right to development, right to cultural participation and access to medicines. The module is intended to equip students with the skills to examine critically the social, economic, cultural and political factors for intellectual property, global health and access to medicines. Students will also be exposed to the necessary critical tools for relevant and comprehensive policy analysis, debate and development in the relevant areas of intellectual property and health.


• Critical understanding of the rationale and operation of intellectual property in the health industries
• Critical understanding of the relevant socio-economic and legal context for intellectual property, including human rights and competition
• Ability to appraise critically relevant policy, legal, economic and other arguments related to intellectual property and health
• Critically analyse papers relating to intellectual property and health
• Critically appraise the consequences of different policy and legal interventions
• Review current developments and consider future developments with respect to policy interventions, legal developments as well as developments in international trade and public health
• A global perspective with respect to access to medicinal products and public health
• Research and policy analysis capacity with respect to the socio-economic, cultural and policy aspects of intellectual property and public health


• Gibson J (2009) Intellectual Property, Medicine and Health: Current Debates, Farnham, Ashgate


Two-hour examination (100%)