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 provides an introduction to the practices and perspectives of medical anthropology by offering a historically contextualised analysis as well as critiques of specific assumptions in biomedical cultures.
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 bioethical 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.
The key aim of the programme is to offer insights into the emergence and evolution of modern medicine and its key institutional, cultural, and ethical tenets as well as discourses and practices. Notions of health, illness, and life in general, 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, we focus 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.
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.
While it underscores phenomenological approaches, it places them within broader cultural, political, and economic context. The aim is to ask how medicine has transformed experiences and expectations of health and disease and how new medical interventions into the biological conditions are based on new understandings of the normal and the pathological. There is a very strong cross-cultural and comparative approach in this module, manifest in our engagement with ethnographic as well as 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 lectureships and professorships throughout the world in areas such as 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
- Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)
- 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.
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.
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.
All students must complete a Dissertation (10,000 words)
For students WITHOUT previous Anthropology degree
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
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
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 & 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.
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).
The Language Entitlement Programme
While you may take a language module for credit, all SOAS MA students, regardless of department or degree, are also entitled to register for non-credit free courses in a single language through the Language Entitlement Programme (LEP). Languages normally available include Arabic, Chinese, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu. Others may also be offered.
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.