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Course content

About the course

Do our categories of behaviour – normal and abnormal – translate across cultures?
Why do ethnic minorities have different experiences of mental health?
Is there a ‘human nature’ underneath all the cultural differences?

Anyone interested in psychological processes, feeling and expression, memory and trauma, culture and personality, will have asked themselves questions of this kind. However, they are less likely to have asked themselves how (or if) we can recognise and analyse different emotions in other cultural settings.

In this new MSc degree, the first of its kind anywhere in Europe, we tackle these and other issues from an anthropological perspective, looking at the social and cultural dimensions of human experience.

By engaging with debates on these important topics and through the examination of world ethnography (including the UK), participants will learn about selfhood, emotion, madness and identity in cultural context.

Anthropology at Brunel is well-known for its focus on ethnographic fieldwork: as well as undertaking rigorous intellectual training, all our students are expected to get out of the library and undertake their own, original research – whether in the UK or overseas – and to present their findings in a dissertation. Students take this opportunity to travel to a wide variety of locations across the world – see “Special Features” for more details.

Attendance for lectures full-time: 2 days per week - for 24 weeks
Attendance for lectures part-time: 1 day per week - for 24 weeks (in each of 2 years)

Aims

This MSc gives candidates a solid grounding in key topics in psychological and psychiatric anthropology.

Through detailed consideration of cases from Britain and around the world, we explore the ways in which person, emotion, and subjectivity are shaped through cultural practices.

Candidates from backgrounds in health, therapy, social work and psychology will be able to challenge the categories and assumptions inherent in standard approaches to psychological and behavioural issues.

Course Content

The MSc consists of both compulsory and optional modules, a typical selection can be found below. Modules can vary from year to year, but these offer a good idea of what we teach.

Full-time

Compulsory modules:

Compulsory Reading Module: Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology
Compulsory Reading Module: Contemporary Anthropological Theory
Dissertation in Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology
Ethnographic Research Methods 1
Ethnographic Research Methods 2
Themes in Psychiatric Anthropology
Themes in Psychological Anthropology

Optional modules:

Anthropology of the Body
Anthropology of the Person
Kinship, Sex and Gender
The Anthropology of Childhood
The Anthropology of Youth
The Anthropology of Global Health
Applied Medical Anthropology in the arena of Global Health
Anthropology of Education
Anthropology of Learning
Ethnicity, Identity and Culture
Medical Anthropology in Clinical and Community Settings

Part-time

Year 1

Compulsory Reading Module: Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology
Compulsory Reading Module: Contemporary Anthropological Theory
Themes in Psychiatric Anthropology
Themes in Psychological Anthropology

Year 2

Dissertation in Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology
Ethnographic Research Methods 1
Ethnographic Research Methods 2
and optional modules

Assessment

Assessment is by essay, practical assignment (e.g. analysis of a short field exercise), and dissertation. There are no examinations.

Special Features

This degree looks at psychological and psychiatric topics from an anthropological perspective. There is an overlap with psychology and psychiatry in the things we look at (identity, consciousness, cognition, mental health, etc), but the approach is quite different; indeed, the findings can be startlingly different.

In all cases, we explore the point of view and experience of the insider, the ‘native’, in a range of cultures, we analyse this inside view in relation to the social and cultural environment. What we seek is a dynamic conception of human nature that is true to experience as well as illuminating broader social processes of which the individual may be only partly aware.
 
This degree challenges standard assumptions about normality and deviance, social and personal identity, the boundaries of the self, and the constituents of experience.

For those employed in the health, social and educational sectors, it will enhance professional practice and broaden understanding. But for every student it will open up new avenues.

The programme is run by experts in their field, who have worked in countries across the globe including Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, sub-Saharan Africa, Melanesia, India and Sri Lanka, as well as Britain.

All our degrees (whether full- or part-time) combine intensive coursework, rigorous training in ethnographic research methods, and a period of fieldwork in the summer term (final summer term if part-time) leading to an up to 15,000 word dissertation.

Students are free to choose their own research topic and geographic area, in consultation with their academic supervisor. In all cases, the dissertation research project provides valuable experience and in many cases it leads to job contacts – forming a bridge to a future career or time out for career development.

In recent years, students have undertaken fieldwork in locations across the world, including India, Mexico, Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, China, Nepal, Peru, Morocco, and New Zealand as well as within the UK and the rest of Europe.

Visit the Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology - MSc page on the Brunel University London website for more details!

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