[skip to content]

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

MA Medical Anthropology

Duration: One calendar year (full-time) Two or three years (part-time, daytime only) We recommend that part-time students have between two and a half and three days free in the week to pursue their course of study. The expectation in the UK is of continuous study across the year, with break periods used to read and to prepare coursework.


Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

Start of programme: September intake only

Who is this programme for?: The degree is suitable for students with an intellectual interest in anthropological approaches to the study of health as well as for those who work in health care in Africa and Asia.

The MA Medical Anthropology comprises two pathways catering for candidates with or without anthropological training. Students come to the course from all over the world, following BA study, work and travel experience or after long careers in other fields. This combination of diverse experience and skills makes for an intellectually exciting atmosphere for both teachers and students.

The course is distinctive in its focus on medical and health issues pertaining to Africa, Asia and Latin America. It covers anthropological theory, cultural understandings of health, and various options. These include combinations of anthropology and food, gender, shamanism and therapy, psychoanalysis, religion and healing in South Asia, China and in Africa, and study of the language and ethnography of a particular region. 

The programme consists of four elements, three examined courses and a dissertation of 10,000 words. The degree is suitable for students with an intellectual interest in anthropological approaches to the study of health as well as for those who work in health care in Africa and Asia. The aim of the degree is to provide:

  • A phenomenological understanding of the body, which implies also subjective attitudes to notions of health, sickness, disease, recovery and personal vulnerability
  • an understanding of these experiences within regional, political, economic and cultural contexts


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Programme Overview

The programme consists of four units in total: three units of taught examined courses and a one unit dissertation of 10,000 words.

Core Courses:
Foundation Course:
Option Courses - Group A and Group B:
  • Students then choose TWO 0.5 unit courses from the Group A and B lists below.  
  • AT LEAST ONE of the two 0.5 unit courses must come from Group A.
Option Courses:
  • Students not taking Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology may then select their fourth unit (either a single 1.0 unit course or two 0.5 unit courses) from the Option Courses list.
  • Alternatively, one language course may be taken from the Faculty of Languages and Cultures.


Programme Detail

Core Courses
Foundation Course
Option Courses List 1

Students must choose two of the following half-unit courses, normally with one from group A.

Group A
Group B
Option Courses List 2

Students choose up to one full-unit course or two half courses from the list below.

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Year abroad



A Masters in Medical Anthropology at SOAS develops students’ understanding of the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised. This programme will also develop a specialist understanding of social processes and cultural representations of health, illness and the nursing/care practices associated with these.  Over the years the SOAS department has trained numerous leading anthropologists who have gone on to occupy lectureships and professorships throughout the world.  Equally, students gain skills during their degree that transfer well to areas such as information and technology, government service, the media and tourism.  

Postgraduate students leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including analytical and critical skills; ability to gather, assess and interpret data; high level of cultural awareness; and problem-solving.  A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

SOAS creates a unique atmosphere that I have never tasted before. I truly love the SOAS community, or what I termed anthropologically as ‘SOAS-ism’.

Hang Wang