MA Medical Anthropology and Intensive Language (2019 Entry)

United Kingdom, - London
Dates flexible
Course Type
Language Course

Course Overview


Our MA Medical Anthropology 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.

This two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with a country in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language courses will enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

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: 2 years full time, 4 years part time

Fees 2019/20:

  • UK/EU fees:

Who should take this course

Interested Students.

Course content


Students must take 315 credits in total, comprised of 255 taught credits (45 of which are taught abroad as part of a Summer School) and a 60-credit dissertation as outlined below.

In their first year, students on this two-year Intensive Language programme take 60 credits of intensive language instruction and 60 credits in the discipline. During the summer, they participate in a Summer School abroad. In the second year, they take another 30 language credits as well as 30 credits in the discipline; they also complete their dissertation in the discipline.

Students are also required to audit 15PANH002 Ethnographic Research Methods , i.e. to attend lectures for this module (without attending seminars or submitting any assessments). The module does not count towards the total of 315 credits.

There are two different pathways for the Medical Anthropology component of this programme: one for students without a background in Anthropology, and one for students with previous knowledge of the subject. Please note that for the latter, the balance of credits between the two years differs slightly from the standard

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.