Our MA Medical Anthropology comprises two pathways catering for candidates with or without anthropological training. The degree is suitable for students with an intellectual interest in anthropological approaches to the study of health as well as for those who work in health care.
The programme is distinctive not only in its comparative approach and focus on health issues pertaining to the so-called Global South, but also in it being informed by clinical, STS, as well as anthropological perspectives. It provides an introduction to the practices and perspectives of medical anthropology by offering a historically contextualised analysis as well as critiques of specific assumptions in biomedical cultures.
The degree combines anthropological theory with ethnographic research in order to examine historical and contemporary dilemmas in medicine and to cover a range of topics including health in relation to gender, race, language, memory, psychoanalysis, science and technology, and religion. Students will also be introduced to the bioethical implications of ongoing cultural and technological shifts, and will be asked to consider these debates as frameworks to engage with current affairs and global conditions pertaining to health, inequality, conflict, and justice.
The key aim of the programme is to offer insights into the emergence and evolution of modern medicine and its key institutional, cultural, and ethical tenets as well as discourses and practices. Notions of health, illness, and life in general, are shaped by social, cultural, political, and technological forces. Questions of health and disease are thus inextricably linked with questions of science, technology, modernity, religion, gender, race, colonialism, capitalism, globalisation, and humanitarianism. As such, we focus on epistemological issues arising from conceptualisations of the body, the politics of disease, as well as the social construction of health and illness, of patient and physician, of the normal and the pathological.
The programme provides a historical overview of the sub-discipline of medical anthropology as well as an understanding of interpretive medical anthropology and critical medical anthropology.
While it underscores phenomenological approaches, it places them within broader cultural, political, and economic context. The aim is to ask how medicine has transformed experiences and expectations of health and disease and how new medical interventions into the biological conditions are based on new understandings of the normal and the pathological. There is a very strong cross-cultural and comparative approach in this module, manifest in our engagement with ethnographic as well as theoretical contributions from the so-called Global South.
This programme has a first-rate graduate employability record, with graduates moving on to find employment in lectureships and professorships throughout the world in areas such as information and technology, government service, the media and tourism. Overview duration: One calendar year (full-time) Two or three years (part-time, daytime only) We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study. The expectation in the UK is of continuous study across the year, with break periods used to read and to prepare coursework.
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Who should take this course
Learn a language as part of this programme
Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students' command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.
The programme consists of 180 credits in total: 120 credits of modules and a dissertation of 10,000 words at 60 credits.
NB: All students must audit the compulsory module, Ethnographic Research Methods during term 1. This will not count towards the 180 credits. Students will be expected to attend only lectures and do not attend seminars or submit any assessments. Students may choose to take this module (worth 15 credits) as part of their 120 credits from the option lists.
About Course Provider
Our mission is to inspire the next generation to develop ideas for a fairer and more sustainable world. We welcome the brightest minds from over 130 different countries, creating a community that is diverse, vibrant and multinational. From day one at our central London campus, our students are encouraged to challenge conventional views and think globally – and that’s one of the reasons why they develop careers that make a real difference. A SOAS student is typically passionate about their subject, opts to learn a second language, loves to learn, to travel, to be surprised; and is interested and engaged with the world around them.