Module lead: Dr Colin Millard
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This is a core module for the MSc global public health and policy, MSc, global health, law and governance, MSc international primary health care, and MSc health systems and global policy.

The aims are

• to enable students to grasp how social theories can be brought to bear so as to extend understanding of health, illness and health care in contemporary societies
• to provide students with the methodological and analytical skills needed to formulate sociological and anthropological understanding of health, illness and health care
• to bring students to a point where the potential of sociological and anthropological work in helping to solve health and illness problems can be evaluated.

This module involves students in sociological and anthropological analyses of health and illness experiences, and the organisation and delivery of health care. Sociological and anthropological content focuses on topics including: the social context of illness, medicalisation and the medical model, illness experience, the clinical relationship, sociology of death and dying, the pharmaceutical industry, and global health.


At the end of this module, we hope that students will be able to:
• define and analyse one or more sociological and/or anthropological problems related to health, illness or health care;
• understand the contribution of social and cultural factors and social context to the experience of health, illness and health care;
• critically analyse the relationship between medicine, health and society;
• apply social theories to the analysis of health, illness or health care in contemporary societies; and
• recognise that the boundaries of knowledge on particular topics are not fixed, and be able to deploy argument and lateral thinking to bring new literature to bear on a problem at hand.


Two to three key readings are provided for each week, which all students are expected to read.
The core textbook for this module is:
• Pool R, Geissler W. Medical anthropology. Maidenhead: Open University Press; 2005.
Students will also find the following useful:
Textbooks (all in the library)
• Helman, C (2007) Culture, Health, and Illness. London; New York, NY: Hodder Arnold.
• Lock, M. M., & Nguyen, V.K. (2010) An anthropology of biomedicine. Chichester, West Sussex; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell
• Lupton D (2012) Medicine as culture: Illness, disease and the body. 3rd ed. London: Sage
• J Biehl and A Petryna (2013) When People Come First: Critical Studies in Global Health. Woodstock: Princeton
• R Fitzpatrick and SC Scrimshaw (Eds.) (2000). The Handbook of Social Studies in Health & Medicine. London: Sage.
Journals (all available through QMUL Library as electronic resources)
• Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry
• Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness & Medicine
• Medical Anthropology Quarterly
• Sociology of Health & Illness
• Social Science & Medicine
• Qualitative Inquiry
• Qualitative Health Research
• Medical Anthropology
• Anthropology and Medicine


(i) 2000 word essay (50%); (ii) 2,000 word essay (50%)