SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Issues in Mind, Culture and Psychiatry

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 1

This module is concerned with the ways the mind and mental illness are understood in different cultural contexts. The module starts with an introduction to psychoanalytical ideas and how they have been applied in different cultural contexts, then moves to consider more recent approaches to transcultural psychiatry. How can we understand altered states of mind, such as spirit possession? How do new technologies such as brain scans change the ways in which we envision the relationship between mind and body, nature and culture, self and society? Using ethnography to challenge the universality of psychiatric knowledge, this course examines how illness classifications are the result of political and epistemological struggles, both on local and global scales. 


  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The successful student will have a basic understanding of the different concepts that are used to understand the link between mind, culture and psychiatry. The course will foster a critical engagement with issues of global health and illness classification.

Method of assessment

  • Essay Outline (500 words) (20%)
  • Essay (2,500 words) (70%)
  • Seminar Participation (10%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules