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Medical Anthropology (MSc)


Course Description

Our degree offers a unique opportunity to learn about anthropological approaches to the study of health drawing on both sociocultural 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. We aim to provide strong training in both theory and methods.

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 teaching and assessment in April and May (Easter Term), and then work, under the supervision of a specialist supervisor, to complete a dissertation in 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.

Each module we offer has a credit value. To obtain a Master’s degree you must register for and pass modules to the value of 180 credits. In recognition of the emphasis we place on independent research skills, the dissertation is a 60 credit module.

Compulsory modules

-Dissertation
-Public Health Anthropology
-Anthropology of Global Health.
Student choose at least one of the following:
-Computational Methods for Social Sciences
-Fieldwork and Interpretation
-Statistical Analysis in Anthropology

Students will then choose 180 credits from a selection of the following.

Previous optional modules have included:

-Academic and Professional Skills in Anthropology
-Evolutionary Perspectives on Western Diseases
-Advanced Anthropology of Mental Health and Illness
-Science, Culture and Ethics: Advanced Perspectives
-Evolutionary Perspective on Reproductive and Infant Health
-Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience
-Thinking Anthropologically
-Anthropology and Development
-Body, Politics and Experience
-Evolutionary and Ecological Topics in Medicine and Health
-Interrogating Ethnography
-Key issues in Socio-Cultural Theory
-Foreign language option

Learning and Teaching

The programme is delivered through a mixture of interactive lectures, seminars, student-led 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. Student-led seminars 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.

We place an emphasis on independent learning. This is supported by the University’s virtual learning environment, extensive library collections and informal contact with tutors and research staff. We consider the development of independent learning and research skills to be one of the key elements of our postgraduate taught curriculum and one which helps our students cultivate initiative, originality and critical thinking.

Full-time students have on average 6-8 hours of formal teaching and learning contact per week. 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. Following the May assessment period, students undertake their dissertation. This crucial piece of work is a significant piece of independent research that constitutes a synthesis of theory, method and practice in anthropology and is supported by an individual supervisor and a dissertation course leader.

Throughout the programme, all students meet regularly 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. In term time, the department also has an extensive programme of departmental and research group seminars which postgraduate students are encouraged and expected to attend. The undergraduate Anthropology Society also organises its own visiting lecturer programme. We ensure that we advertise any other relevant seminars and lectures in Durham, Newcastle and further afield, and encourage students to attend relevant conferences.

Before the academic year starts, we provide information on preparation for the course. On arrival we have induction sessions and social events, headed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and attended by both academic and administrative staff. Students also attend an “Introduction to Research Groups in Anthropology”.

Visit the Medical Anthropology (MSc) page on the Durham University website for more details!

Entry Requirements


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