The MSc in Medical Anthropology offers a unique opportunity to engage with anthropological approaches to the study of health drawing on sociocultural, ecological and evolutionary perspectives. The course provides a strong grounding in ethnographic approaches to the study of health, the political ecology of health and the application of anthropology to contemporary public health concerns, as well as a diverse range of options in areas such as theories of the body and evolutionary medicine. Our unique biosocial approach to the anthropology of health is one of our key strengths and attracts a wide range of students, contributing to a stimulating and exciting learning environment. An emphasis on developing and applying research skills is also central to our degree. The course is taught by the academic researchers from our highly regarded Anthropology of Health Research Group [hyperlink to https://www.dur.ac.uk/anthropology/research/health/].
Course Learning and Teaching The full-time course runs for a full year, from October to September. Full-time students attend classes between October and December (Michaelmas Term) and January and March (Epiphany), with further assessment in April and May (Easter Term), and then work, under the supervision of a specialist supervisor, to complete a dissertation by September. Core modules introduce the Anthropology of Global Health and Public Health Anthropology, and anthropological methods. Students can choose to focus on qualitative or quantitative methods or to train in both.
The programme is delivered through a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, practical sessions and workshops, in addition to one-to-one dissertation supervision. Typically, lectures deliver key information on progressively more advanced themes and topics. Seminars provide an opportunity to reflect in more depth upon material delivered in lectures and gathered from independent study outside the programme’s formal contact hours. They give students an opportunity to engage with academic issues at the cutting-edge of research in Anthropology, in a learning environment focused on discussion and debate of current issues.
Full-time students have on average 6-8 hours of formal teaching and learning contact per week, and are also expected to attend weekly departmental and Anthropology of Health Research Group research seminars, often given by prominent visiting speakers.. Students also have the opportunity to present their work at the Department’s annual postgraduate conference, and to join activities with other universities, such as our annual advanced medical anthropology workshop with the University of Edinburgh. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to devote significant amounts of time to reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work.
Throughout the programme, all students meet fortnightly with the degree tutor, who provides academic support and guidance. Furthermore, all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis, or can be e-mailed to arrange a mutually agreeable time. Students work closely with leading academics to develop an original piece of research for their dissertation, and guidance on the dissertation is also provided by the dissertation leader.
Before the academic year starts, we provide information on preparing for the course. On arrival we have induction sessions, including a field trip and social events, headed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and the degree tutor for Medical Anthropology. Students also attend an introduction to our departmental research groups, including the Anthropology of Health Research Group.