SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health (2022 entry)

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Overview and entry requirements

The MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health is a unique interdisciplinary programme designed to address pressing global challenges in health and mental health from diverse perspectives. This degree is distinctive in its comparative approach and focus on cultures of health and wellbeing pertaining to the so-called Global South, and is informed by clinical, psychological, philosophical, biomedical, STS, and anthropological perspectives.

You will be introduced to the practices and perspectives of medical and psychological anthropology and anthropological studies of health and wellbeing in relation to institutional belief systems, philosophies, and practices. You will also learn about the bioethical implications of ongoing cultural and technological shifts and the ethical stakes of a wide range of healing philosophies and practices. This will enable you to consider these debates as frameworks to engage with current affairs and global conditions pertaining to health, inequality, conflict, and justice.

In the aftermath of the pandemic our society has gained an increased awareness of the embedded-ness of health and mental health in socio-political and historical contexts. This programme will attract those with a cross-disciplinary interest in mental health, public health, health policy, humanitarianism, and global justice. It will appeal to various students with an intellectual interest in anthropological approaches to the study of health and mental health in particular, as well as for those who work in health care, including students health practitioners, and dentistry, nursing, medical, and pre-med students. We accommodate students of medicine and medical sciences who are interested in combining their training with an MA degree in anthropology.

Why study MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health at SOAS

  • SOAS is ranked 5th in the UK in the 2022 QS World University Rankings for Anthropology, and 10th in the world 
  • draw on the clinical and scientific expertise of our teaching staff with a wide range of backgrounds in medicine, biomedical sciences, psychological sciences, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and STS
  • we juxtapose ethnographic thinking and clinical thinking, and encourage students and practitioners to incorporate ethnographic methods in the clinical world
  • Join a unique plural environment. SOAS brings together a wide range of world leading scholarship, regional expertise, and deep knowledge of world religions, philosophies, value systems, cultural framings, literary and artistic expressions
  • we are specialists in the delivery of languages; your command of a language at SOAS will set you apart from graduates of other universities
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MA Medical Anthropology and Mental Health at SOAS

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with a 2:2 (or international equivalent) or higher in social science of humanities subject. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application such as supporting statement. References are optional, but can help build a stronger application if you fall below the 2:2 requirement or have non-traditional qualifications.

    Please see our 'postgraduate entry requirements' page for Overseas and EU qualifications and equivalencies.

Featured events

One calendar year (full-time)

Fees 2022/23

Home students fees:
Overseas students fees:

Fees for 2022/23 entrants. This is a Band 1 fee. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found on the Postgraduate tuition fees page




The programme consists of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits.


All students must complete a Dissertation (10,000 words) of 60 credits.

Compulsory Modules

All students take 75 credits of compulsory modules:

Module Code Credits Term
701 Contemporary Anthropological Theory 15PANH102 15 Term 1
702 Ethnographic Research Methods 15PANH002 15
753 Mind, Culture and Psychiatry 15PANH032 15 Term 1
754 Medical Anthropology: Global Perspectives 15PANH089 15 Term 1
755 Anthropological Approaches to the Body and Embodiment 15PANH088 15
Guided Options

All students choose 15 to 45 credits from the following modules:

Module Code Credits Term
723 Diet, Society and Environment 15PANH090 15 Term 2
724 Migration, Borders and Space: Decolonial Approaches 15PANH086 15 Term 1
752 Anthropology of 'Race', Gender and Sexuality 15PANH082 15 Term 2
750A Ethnographic Locations: Sub-Saharan Africa 15PANH063 15
750B Ethnographic Locations: East Asia 15PANH062 15
750C Ethnographic Locations: Near and Middle East 15PANH067 15

Open Options

All students choose up to 30 credits from List A or any module from the School Open Options List or a language.

List A – Representative Open Options
Module Code Credits Term
Cultural Studies: New Practices and Widerning Horizons 15PCSH006 15 Term 2
Global Health and Development 15PDSH051 15 Term 1
Transnationalising Queer, Trans and Disability Studies 15PGNH016 15 Term 2
Yoga and Meditation: Perspectives, Context and Methodologies 15PSRH046 15 Term 1

All students enrol in the dissertation module :

Module Code Credits Term
799A Dissertation (MA) in Anthropology 15PANC999 60 Full Year


Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Teaching methods are through attendance in classes, independent and group study and class preparation, as well as lectures/seminars and through coursework. In some modules this will be through non-assessed as well as assessed coursework, and in some courses through workshops and practical sessions.


Students will be assessed through a combination of essays, reflective pieces, practical exercises (eg methodological experiments), presentations in writing and other media (including photography, film, creative writing), and a longer dissertation.

Contact hours

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS) such as reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. Also included is class time, for example lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects may have more class time than others – a typical example of this are language acquisition modules.
At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar every week.


Our instructors are involved in interdisciplinary research and multi-faceted public outreach via several initiatives including Dr Orkideh Behrouzan’s Beyond Trauma Initiative and Professor David Mosse’s collaboration with health services as part of his ESRC funded project on Peer-supported Open Dialogue

Learning outcomes

  • Understand and explain key conceptual frameworks and debates in medical anthropology.
  • Develop the ability to reflect in a critical and informed manner on current global health issues and particularly issues pertaining to mental health, with reference to ethnographic examples.
  • Develop a critical understanding of the relationship between ethnography and theory in the construction of anthropological knowledge and an understanding of the ways in which ethnographic and anthropological knowledge offer a specific set of viewpoints and methods for understanding health and mental health.
  • Students will be expected to grasp the broad global historical/political/cultural canvas against which medical anthropology has been shaped and is studied and how it may be useful for thinking about global health, mental health, and epidemics and pandemics.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Fees for 2022/23 entrants, per academic year (Band 1 tuition fee) 

£11,980 £23,400

Please note that fees go up each year. Two-year full-time programmes have 2 years of full-time fees; the fee in the second year will be higher than the fee for the first year (the full time fee above is for the first year only).

For full details of tuition fees, see our postgraduate tuition fees page.



The MA Medical ANthropology and Mental Health programme prepares our graduates for a wide range of employment. Our graduates pursue careers in healthcare, academia, communications, policy, finance, tech, and education in government, corporate, humanitarian, and non-profit sectors. We provide aspiring analysts, consultants, practitioners, academics, advocates, educators, and experts with skills to tackle the great challenges of our time. 

Students from SOAS’ Department of Anthropology and Sociology develop an in-depth understanding of the world. Employers value our graduates’ cultural awareness and global perspective, as well as their skills in analysis, data interpretation and problem-solving.

This MA programme prepares our graduates for employment, as well as for further study in professional schools (medical school or mental healthcare practice) or PhD programmes.

You will be able to pursue careers in healthcare, academia, communications, policy, tech, and education, in government, corporate, humanitarian, international development, and non-profit sectors. Graduates will also be prepared to work with humanitarian organizations, think tanks, healthcare settings, and health policy bodies in developing countries in the Global South with sensitivity to cultural and institutional differences.

Recent Department of Anthropology and Sociology graduates have been hired by:

  • Allen & Overy
  • BBC
  • British Council
  • Deloitte
  • Hackney Migrant Centre
  • IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development)
  • IOM- UN Migration
  • Media 52
  • New York Times
  • Social Mobility Foundation
  • The Week
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • World Bank Group

Find out about our Careers Service.

A Student's Perspective

My course has opened up the possibility of lots of exciting career paths; I am currently considering the option of travel writing, trainee journalism with the BBC, or digital marketing.

Ella Britton


Find out more