Medical Anthropology MSc (MSc)

Brunel University London the United Kingdom

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The award

How long you will study
1 Years

Domestic course fees
GBP 4030

How you will study

Course starts

International course fees
GBP 10070

All study options

About Medical Anthropology MSc at Brunel University London

The Brunel MSc addresses medical anthropology issues in a lively and challenging way. It was the first taught master's degree dedicated to medical anthropology in Europe; and it is the largest MSc medical anthropology programme in the UK.Entry RequirementsNormally a good Honours degree from a UK institution; an equivalent overseas qualification; or an equivalent professional qualification (eg from a health background or similar). Candidates not fully meeting these criteria may nevertheless be considered. Students whose first language is not English must have IELTS of at least 6.5 or equivalent. Course AimsWhy do some biomedical interventions seeking to control infectious and non-infectious diseases work, and others fail? How do ideas about ‘the body’ and ‘person’ influence the experience of health, illness and healing among different groups and societies? How and why is it appropriate to combine insights emerging from clinical and epidemiological research with ethnographic understandings of health, illness and disease? Medical anthropology can be described as the study of cultural beliefs and behaviours associated with the origin, recognition and management of health and illness in different social and cultural groups. Despite the name conventionally given to this area of study, medical anthropology is not simply concerned with practices of healing or systems of diagnosis and treatment such as biomedicine. It deals with the more informal systems of health care that exist worldwide (such as self-treatment, folk healers, shamans, traditional birth attendants, and alternative practitioners), as well as those associated with professional Western science-based medicine and caring practices. Additionally, medical anthropology is also concerned with issues which relate to different cultural views of the 'self' in health and disease, as well as shared beliefs, images and practices associated with perceptions of the human body and mind. The Brunel MSc addresses the above issues in a lively and challenging way. It was the first taught master's degree dedicated to medical anthropology in Europe; and it is the largest MSc medical anthropology programme in the UK. We have the largest number of dedicated and internationally known medical anthropology staff in the country teaching the degree; and around 330 students have graduated with an MSc in medical anthropology from Brunel University. They are now working all over the world in a variety of settings.Course ContentThe main objectives of the course are to provide a rigorous grounding in key topics and perspectives in medical anthropology, and to equip candidates with a range of research skills to enable them to successfully complete research (either individually or part of a team). Students have undertaken a huge range of important studies for dissertations in Britain, Europe and worldwide. Many have been used by NGOs, primary care trusts and UN agencies to assist their work as well as giving excellent demonstrations of the anthropologist's craft. Some recent examples of students' dissertations include: The management of Alzheimer's disease; The relationship between nurses and doctors in managing primary care; Cultural aspects of the management of premature babies; Private experiences and public encounters: selfhood and personhood amidst the chaos of homelessness; Life in a government-run leprosy colony in Nepal; An exploration into the role of girls abducted during the war in Sierra Leone; "This time I'm going to God because it doesn't cost money": managing mental illness and madness in Uganda. Modules are subject to variation and students are advised to check with the School on whether a particular module of interest will be running in their year of entry.Typical ModulesCoreMedical Anthropology in Clinical and Community SettingsTheoretical framings: Nature-nurture/culture-biology debates and the concept of local biologies; clinically and critically applied medical anthropology; risk perception and discourse on risk; narrative, suffering and subjectivity; biomedicine, population sciences and medicalisation; political economy of health anddevelopment; governance and politics of international aid; rights-based approach to health and bioethics; Thematic examples: ‘Adolescence’ and the life-cycle; cross-cultural psychiatry and community-based mental health; alternative therapies and medical pluralism; doctor-patient interactions; evidence-based medicine and policy-making; childbirth and maternal health; sexuality and reproductive health; genetics and biotechnology; medicines and pharmaceutical industry.Anthropology of Biomedicine and PsychiatryHistory of science & biomedicine; diagnostic technologies and classification; biotechnology and the modern self; ethics of bio-experimentation; epistemologies of statistics, epidemiology & the population sciences; medicalisation of the life cycle, case studies in menopause and adolescence; politics of aid, development and post-colonial science; the rise of evidence-based medicine; biomedical psychiatry and bio-colonialism; culture & critical neuroscience; challenges in the ethnography of science; implications of anthropology of science for clinical practice and population healthAnthropology and Global HealthChanging conceptions of public health; Constructing public health problems: the case of female circumcision; the social construction of epidemics; constructions of health and sickness in war zones; the changing relationship between anthropology and epidemiology; targeting people, targeting places: the limits of HIV prevention strategies; neglected tropical diseases and the case for targeted disease control programmes; public health and healing in the aftermath of war; evaluating public health policy; human rights and public health; ethical aspects of public health policy and practice.Ethnographic Research MethodsMain topics of study: the centrality of fieldwork to anthropological research; theoretical and practical issues of participant observation, open-ended unstructured interviews and semi-structured interviews; the advantages and disadvantages of using questionnaires during fieldwork; different styles of ethnographic writing; gaining access in ethnographic research; ethical clearance and ethical dilemmas arising in the course of fieldwork; constructing a research proposal.DissertationThe specific topics and/or research problems discussed in the dissertation are a function of the student’s particular research interest in the domain of medical anthropology, and the data generated by the student’s own fieldwork. Recent examples of dissertations by students taking this course include: The Management of Alzheimer's disease. The relationships between nurses and doctors in managing primary care. Private experiences and public encounters: selfhood and personhood amidst the chaos of homelessness.ElectivesKinship and New Directions in AnthropologyMain topics of study: descent and alliance, the household, the incest taboo, new reproductive technologies, kinship and the state, gay kinship, the abortion debate, conceptions of social reproduction, kinship and migration, the social and cultural construction of paternity.Anthropology of the BodyMain Topics of Study: The social body; embodiment, ‘habitus’ and phenomenological approaches to the body; cross-cultural perceptions of the body; the body in parts; sex and gender; childhood and the body; bodily norms, beauty and ideas of the perfect body; biomedicine and the body; death and the dying body.Anthropology of the PersonMain topics of study: theories of the person; the notion of 'normality'; the emergence of memero-politics; classifications, kinds, and kind-making; 'looping effects'; cultural bound syndrome and 'ecological niche'.Anthropology of Disability and DifferenceMain Topics of Study: A critical overview of the medical and social models of disability that have framed discourse on disability; ethnographic and phenomenological alternatives to such approaches; conducting fieldwork with cognitively and physically impaired people; disability across the life course, with a focus on childhood disability; identity and disability; social policy, development, the state and disability; ethical dilemmas and the new genetics.Plus two unassessed reading modules:History and Theory of Social AnthropologyMain topics of study: evolutionary' anthropology; 'race', 'civilisation'; diffusionism and the Boas school; the development of ethnographic research; functional, structure and comparison; structuralism; neo-evolutionism; culture and the interpretation of cultures; critiques (Marxism, feminism, post-modernism).Issues in Social AnthropologyMain topics of study: kinship; gender; religion; anthropology of the body. Further details (School of Social Sciences web pages)Teaching and LearningYou will be taught via a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and film.AssessmentAssessment is variously by essay, practical assignments (eg, analysis of a short field exercise), and a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words. This dissertation is based upon fieldwork undertaken by the candidate. There are no examinations. CareersStudents will acquire analytical and research skills that can be used in a wide range of careers. For instance, graduates will find that the degree enhances professional development in fields such as midwifery, general practice, sexual health, psychiatry, nutrition, psychotherapy, public health, non-governmental agencies and international development. Some of our graduates also go on to do further research for a PhD in medical anthropology.

Study options for this course

  • The award How you will study How long you will study Course starts Domestic course fees International course fees
  • The awardMScHow you will studyFull-timeHow long you will study1 year
    Course startsSeptemberDomestic course feesGBP 4030International course feesGBP 10070
  • The awardMScHow you will studyPart-timeHow long you will study2 years
    Course startsSeptemberDomestic course feesGBP 2015International course feesGBP 5035

Entry requirements for this course

Contact Brunel University London to find course entry requirements.

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