Life Science Law

Course content

This course intends to give students a deep understanding of a variety of legal issues that are crucial to the pharma and life science sectors before and after their products have received market approval (MA) by the relevant authorities. It is a comprehensive and practical course for students with an interest in the legal aspects of the life science industry. The course could have never been more relevant, topical and absolutely essential since the COVID-19 crisis hit the world and changed our lives fundamentally. COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented and frantic search for treatments and vaccines against the deadly virus, but one should not make a mistake and think that this will not come at a cost to society, as it can be assumed that all these treatments and vaccines will be subject to exclusive rights owned by pharma companies. You will gain in-depth insight into these issues during this course.  Besides providing students with the necessary theoretical knowledge, this course entails a unique opportunity to gain practical insights both through practitioner-lectures and field trips to law firms and companies in the Medicon Valley. It is targeted towards students that consider a career in life sciences - be it as in-house counsel with a pharmaceutical/life science company or as a legal expert at a consulting firm or in relevant agencies and organizations. Due to the great variety of legal aspects covered, the course will be relevant also for students with a general interest in IP, EU law, biomedical law, international and comparative law or public policy. In order to understand how these legal aspects influence the life science industry in the context of rapid legal, political, economic and scientific changes, it is important to gain an understanding of the business dynamics of the industry and some basic knowledge of e.g. drug development and the science on which it is based. Against this background, the course is designed to provide students with a broad and practical understanding of the industry and various legal disciplines that affect it by presenting them around their importance to each step in the lifecycle of a pharmaceutical product – from research and invention to market approval, commercialization and distribution. The focus is on substantive legal issues at an EU level, rather than at the national level. Students will read and discuss real-life scenarios aimed at developing analytical thinking and reflective judgment. On the pre-MA stage the course will address the regulation of research & development, the protection of inventions stemming from areas such as stem cell research, gene-technology and personalized medicine, through patents, SPCs and regulatory exclusivities, as well as the regulatory framework related to the MA procedure. On the post MA level special emphasis will be laid on patent litigation, technology transfer & licensing, regulatory rules related to pharmacovigilance and product safety, the marketing of pharmaceutical products, parallel trade, competition law and access to medicine. 


The lectures are divided into eight main- segments reflecting the typical chronological stages of pharmaceutical product development and commercialization:

  • Part I provides the students with a basic scientific preface and a first overview of the business environment, the legal landscape and the most central issues that will be addressed throughout the course.
  • Part II will deal with selected legal aspects of research regulation.
  • Part III will address the protection of research results through patents and SPCs. We will concentrate on the most important patentability requirements and discuss their application vis-à-vis pharmaceutical, biotech and life science inventions during the patent prosecution procedure.
  • Part IV will focus on specific regulatory aspects and the legal procedure for conducting clinical trials and securing marketing approval.
  • Part V will deal with selected legal aspects that will have to be considered after a pharmaceutical product has received market approval, including topics such as pharmacovigilance, product safety regulations, pricing, transparency and ethical problems, as well as legal issues related to advertising and marketing/promoting the product.
  • Part VI will focus on post grant IPR litigation, including the process and considerations regarding the enforcement of patents/SPC rights and regulatory data and marketing exclusivities. This part will also address technology transfer and licensing issues.
  • Part VII addresses the interface between IPRs with EU competition law and general EU, for example in the context of pharmaceutical patent settlements and parallel trade.
  • Finally part VIII will deal with the debates related to compulsory licensing and access to medicine in both the “developed” and developing world.
Learning outcome

All students will be expected to contribute actively to class-room discussions.

Before this background the learning outcome of the course can be defined as follows:


1) Knowledge: All students should acquire knowledge about:

  • the content, relevance and interrelationship of specific legal disciplines, as well as basic scientific and business aspects that are of particular importance to the life science industry 
  • the basic legal rules concerning the protection and/or regulation of an object, subject and contents within the life science law disciplines


2) Skills: All students should acquire skills in: 

  • presenting & explaining solutions and legal arguments in a systematic and coherent manner that demonstrates overview, as well as in-depth knowledge and understanding of specific life science law issues. 
  • identifying specific problems and legal arguments within life science law on the basis of complex material. Master students should acquire additional skills in: 
  • discussing the pros and cons of applying the various disciplines/solutions within complex problem areas. 
  • making academically reasoned arguments and decisions for different solutions including a critical weighing of the legal arguments and choices.


3) Competences: All students should acquire competences in: 

  • Critically reflect and put into perspective the interdisciplinary differences and similarities of the legal and scientific areas involved. 
  • Analyze to what extent identified problems can be solved in practice by exploiting diverse legal disciplines and arguments. Master students should acquire additional competences in: 
  • combining different academic approaches, such as legal methods of interpretation, in connection with the analysis. 
  • communicating and formulating the acquired knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct and in a structured & coherent way.

The course includes the following types of learning activities:
- brainstorming questions;
- policy debates and in class discussions;
- simulation exercises;
- case solving exercises;
- moot courts;
- webinars
- revisions;
- student presentations;
- student portfolio (debate and summary papers).

Mandatory readings:

• Folder of selected articles, cases, commentaries and reports. Some of these will be made available through ABSALON, other will be distributed in class before each lecture and in the course of the WEBINARS.

Ca. 750 pp. in total


Optional readings:

Additional cases and supplementary materials - selected and made available by the teachers - These are optional readings for students that want to dwell deeper into the issues.

Basic previous knowledge in IPR Law (for example from the “EU IPRs and Policy in an International Context” Course), and EU Law would be highly beneficial. Moreover, prior knowledge in EU Health Law would be helpful.

Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min.
Type of assessment details
Oral exam with preparation, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

The objective of the examination is to determine the extent to which the students have acquired the knowledge and competencies, which are defined in the learning objectives of the course.

The exam will be closely linked to this course-plan and the content of the actual lectures, as the students focus on the material they must master at the exam during their study activity and learning process.


Before this background the students are evaluated by:

  • their knowledge of the applicable law and procedures
  • their skills in identifying, presenting & explaining solutions and legal arguments in a systematic and coherent manner
  • their ability/competence to analyze and discuss how the identified problems could/should be solved in practice by exploiting diverse legal disciplines and arguments More specific information on the scope and the precise topics of the examination will be provided in the Q&A lectures.


As indicated in the description of the learning outcomes the evaluation of the students will also depend on if the students are participating on the bachelor or master level.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • English
  • 412,5


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

  1. Students enrolled at Faculty of Law or holding a pre-approval: No tuition fee
  2. Professionals: Please visit our website  
Please see timetable for teaching hours
Contracting department
  • Law
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Law
Course Coordinator
  • Sven Jean R Bostyn   (11-7578677030647175767b70426c7774306d7730666d)
Saved on the 12-05-2022

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