SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

MA Medical Anthropology (2020 entry)

Select year of entry: 2020 2019

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Our MA Medical Anthropology comprises two pathways catering for candidates with or without anthropological training. 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.

The programme is distinctive not only in its comparative approach and focus on health issues pertaining to the so-called Global South, but also in it being informed by clinical, STS, as well as anthropological perspectives. It offers insights into the evolution of modern medicine and its key institutional, cultural, and ethical tenets as well as discourses and practices. The key aim is to engage in a cultural critique of biomedical assumptions, while also upholding a serious engagement with biomedical knowledge/mindsets in order to explore what they can offer anthropology. The programme provides a historical overview of the sub-discipline of medical anthropology as well as an understanding of interpretive medical anthropology and critical medical anthropology.

The degree combines anthropological theory with ethnographic research in order to examine historical and contemporary dilemmas in medicine and to cover a range of topics including health in relation to gender, race, language, memory, psychoanalysis, science and technology, and religion. Students will also be introduced to the moral implications of ongoing cultural and technological shifts, and will be asked to consider these debates as frameworks to engage with current affairs and global conditions pertaining to health, inequality, conflict, and justice.

Notions of health, illness are shaped by social, cultural, political, and technological forces. Questions of health and disease are thus inextricably linked with questions of science, technology, modernity, religion, gender, race, colonialism, capitalism, globalisation, and humanitarianism. As such, this programme focuses on epistemological issues arising from conceptualisations of the body, the politics of disease, as well as the social construction of health and illness, of patient and physician, of the normal and the pathological.

Introducing students to relevant theoretical framework as well as ethnographies, the programme will underscore phenomenological perspectives as well as analyses of the political economy of health. There is a strong cross-cultural and comparative approach in this module, manifest in our engagement with ethnographic and theoretical contributions from the so-called Global South.

This programme has a first-rate graduate employability record, with graduates moving on to find employment in academia and beyond in areas such as healthcare, information and technology, government service, the media and tourism.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time


Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.

Featured events

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.

Fees 2020/21

UK/EU fees:
Overseas fees:

Fees for 2020/21 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 in the Fees and Funding tab on this page or in the Registry Postgraduate Tuition Fees page



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 180 credits in total: 120 credits of modules and a dissertation of 10,000 words at 60 credits.

NB: All students must audit the compulsory module, Ethnographic Research Methods during term 1.  This will not count towards the 180 credits.  Students will be expected to attend only lectures and do not attend seminars or submit any assessments.  Students may choose to take this module (worth 15 credits) as part of their 120 credits from the option lists.

Programme Detail


All students must complete a Dissertation (10,000 words)

Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology 15PANC999 60 Full Year
For students WITHOUT previous Anthropology degree
Core Module
Module Code Credits Term
Medical Anthropology in Global Perspective 15PANC093 30 Full Year
Compulsory Modules
Module Code Credits Term
Ethnographic Research Methods 15PANH002 15 Term 1
Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology 15PANC008 30 Full Year

Choose a module from the List A below to the value of 15 credits


Choose module(s) from the List A or List B below to the value of 45 credits


Choose Post Graduate Language modules to the value of 45 credits

For students WITH previous Anthropology degree
Core Module
Module Code Credits Term
Medical Anthropology in Global Perspective 15PANC093 30 Full Year
Compulsory Module
Module Code Credits Term
Ethnographic Research Methods 15PANH002 15 Term 1

Choose a module from the List A below to the value of 15 credits


Choose module(s) from the List A or List B below to the value of 75 credits


Choose Post Graduate Language modules to the value of 75 credits

List A
Module Code Credits Term
Issues in Mind, Culture and Psychiatry 15PANH032 15 Term 1
Perspectives On Development 15PANH033 15 Term 1
African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World 15PANH010 15 Term 1
Anthropology and "Race" in the Global Context 15PANH071 15 Term 2
Issues in Anthropology and Climate Change 15PANH070 15 Term 1
Issues in the Anthropology of Gender 15PANH024 15 Term 2
Ethnographic Research Methods 15PANH002 15 Term 1
Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology 15PANC008 30 Full Year
Aid and Development 15PDSH027 15 Term 2
Development Practice 15PDSH013 15 Term 1
Gender and Development 15PDSH010 15 Term 1
List B
Module Code Credits Term
Culture and Society of China 15PANH062 15 Term 2
Culture and Society of East Africa 15PANH063 15 Term 1
Culture and Society of Japan 15PANH065 15 Term 1
Culture and Society of South Asia 15PANH064 15 Term 2
Culture and Society of South East Asia 15PANH066 15 Term 1
Culture and Society of Near and Middle East 15PANH067 15 Term 2
Culture and Society of West Africa 15PANH068 15 Term 2
Ethnographic Research Methods 15PANH002 15 Term 1
Media Production Skills (Group B) 15PANH050 15 Term 2
Religions on the move: New Currents and Emerging Trends in Global Religion 15PANH055 15 Term 1
Death and Religion 15PSRC162 30 Full Year
East Asian Buddhist Thought 15PSRH018 15 Term 2
Religious Practice in Japan: Texts, Rituals and Believers 15PSRC071 30 Full Year


Programme Specification

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


In the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, most postgraduate modules have a one or two-hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week. Lectures and seminars are often taken by different teachers to provide a variety of angles on the subject.  The majority of the student’s time will be through their own independent study. Students become more active in class through their reading and essay-writing and should greatly enhance their participation in discussion groups.

The Dissertation

These are taken by final-year students only, its aim is to provide an opportunity for students to conduct original historical research on their own initiative, to engage in in-depth analysis of particular subjects and to use a range of primary historical sources. It is assessed by a single 10,000-word dissertation (including notes but excluding bibliography).

Fees and funding

Tuition Fees

Full details of postgraduate tuition fees can be found on the Registry's Postgraduate Tuition Fees page.

This is a Band 1 tuition fee.

Fees for 2020/21 entrants. The fees below are per academic year. Fees go up each year, therefore, your tuition fee in your second & subsequent years of study will be higher. Our continuing students, on the same degree programme, are protected from annual increases higher than 5%.

Full-time Part-time 2 Years Part-time 3 Years Part-time 4 Years
Intensive Language only
£10,170 £20,930 £5,085 £10,460 £3,390 £6,975 £5,085 £10,460

Felix Non- Indian Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2020-01-31 15:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2020-01-31 15:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – East Asia

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Ghana

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – India

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Japan

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Nigeria

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – Pakistan

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

International Postgraduate Scholarship – South Korea

Application Deadline: 2020-05-31 00:00

John Loiello AFSOAS FISH Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2020-02-20 15:00

SOAS Master's Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2020-02-20 15:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2020-02-20 15:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2020-06-05 15:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section


A Masters in Medical Anthropology helps you to understand the world, other peoples’ ways of life and how society is organised.

This programme will endow you with specialist understanding of producers, audiences, and other cultural and social aspects of mass media. 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.

Student Testimonials:

Michelle Potiaumpai
"The medical anthropology programme at SOAS has provided me with the opportunity to study so many different subject areas such as human rights, gender, and mental health. The focus on a critical perspective has broadened my research capabilities and motivated me to pursue a PhD because I have learned that anthropologists can both study society, and help to improve and transform it."

Matt Cowling
"Having grown up in a family of medical professionals, this course allowed me to interrogate my own ideas of health and illness. I found these were often taken for granted as I learnt the ways in which how they are socially and historically situated. The approach and introduction to medical anthropology was more critical than I had anticipated. As a new programme to the university, this reinvigorated approach to such a well-established sub discipline within anthropology felt like it was pushing boundaries, even within such a progressive environment that is SOAS. Particularly, this course will allow students with undergraduate degrees in anthropology, like myself, to refine their theoretical training and apply their anthropological imagination to contemporary issues in health and medicine."

Rose Uekert
"I could tell you the pros and cons of attending SOAS, the brilliant professors that nestle themselves in the medical anthropology department or I could preach to you about the captivating lectures and topics covered - but no. I'm going to tell about the students, well really, my friends. You should consider this program because medical anthropology attracts a niche group - maybe it's luck - but I got stuck with a beautiful myriad of humans from so many places mentally and geographically, that you could make a Jackson Pollock if you were to connect the dots. We all contributed something to the learning experience, sliding in on a topic from new angles every time. That's the beauty of this program, there's a new bag of dice every year - I say I got lucky with this bunch, but if we look at luck from a medical perspective, there is no such thing - so your chances of getting stuck with boring people are very unlikely. If you look at luck from an anthropology perspective, its an important social value and belief for some of us that should be taken seriously. How do you interpret those ideas together? I guess you'll have to find out for yourself."

Danielle De Vito Halevy - MA Medical Anthropology 2018/19
"Thank goodness for this degree. I came directly from my undergraduate starting at 17 and did not know exactly what I wanted to do. The MA Medical Anthropology degree at SOAS has allowed me to go in depth in the variety of academic interests I had. It was intensive, fast-paced and required independent commitment but the results are very fulfilling and the flexibility means you can really get what you want most out of it. Medical Anthropology itself is very interdisciplinary and the degree manages to incorporate all its aspects: from theory and critical analysis to ethnography and contemporary implications. Highly recommend!"

Cheyenne Ritfeld
"If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would end up studying my dream course at SOAS in London, I would probably laugh out loud.
For various reasons, studying abroad was not possible, so I applied elsewhere and was due to start an MA Medical Anthropology in Amsterdam.
Due to a variety of wonderful circumstances, I could move to London last-minute and commence this course at SOAS after all!
Since my background was not in Anthropology, I got to learn about key theories and terminology, but also about highly influential work like 'Writing Culture' of Clifford Geertz and George Marcus. These teachings enabled me to write essays critically, as well as apply this knowledge to my dissertation.
In turn, this has helped me to specify the path I want to take for my future career in Medicine.
SOAS is a wonderful place where cultures, ethnicities and religions from all over the world come together to discuss and solve contemporary issues from various angles.
If you are looking for an environment that helps you to grow into an even more knowledgeable, capable and successful individual - this is the place for you!"

A Student's Perspective

I’m from Haiti, and my experiences there have helped me become sensitive to social and class struggles and political turmoil, which are topics that Anthropology provides tools for analysing.

Adele Austin


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