Taught course

Applied Medical Humanities

Birkbeck, University of London · English, Theatre and Creative Writing

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Entry requirements

You must have graduated from a UK medical school or hold an equivalent second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from an overseas medical school.

Applicants from other healthcare or professional backgrounds relevant to medicine and medical regulation may be admitted to the programme. Such applicants must hold relevant professional qualifications and/or a second-class honours degree.

Applications are reviewed on their individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

Months of entry


Course content

Birkbeck's MA/PgDip/PgCert Applied Medical Humanities is designed to help medical practitioners explore and understand their complex, everyday clinical experiences with diverse patients and cultures. Medical humanities is a rich interdisciplinary field of study in which medicine and its practices are examined through the lenses of the humanities disciplines, including art, cultural and critical studies, film, history, law, literature and philosophy.

This practice-based programme utilises the insights and skills of the humanities disciplines to support the development of the professional capabilities, values and behaviours defined by the GMC and NMC and core to clinical practice. Its focus on the integration of medicine and humanities will help you develop a deeper understanding of your clinical practice, locate ways of enhancing patient care and explore strategies for your own self-care. You will acquire new skills in verbal and written communication, research and critical analysis that will expand your existing professional skill-set.

To contextualise Western medicine and the cultural specificity of medicine in Britain, you will undertake a placement within another speciality or medical tradition at the end of your first year. The insights you gain in this placement will allow you to develop a reflexive understanding of your own speciality and the settings in which you deliver healthcare.

This programme is relevant for practitioners across all stages of medical and healthcare careers: in medicine, from foundation years, through speciality training, to consultant level; in nursing, from early career through to specialist and consultant levels. Its intensive delivery makes it possible for full-time clinicians and healthcare professionals, from the UK and overseas, to combine study with clinical commitments.


  • In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), English Language and Literature at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 91% of eligible staff submitted research, of which 75% was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • In addition to our own richly resourced library, Birkbeck’s location in Bloomsbury offers excellent access to all the major research libraries in London, including Senate House Library, the British Library and the Wellcome Collection, the foremost museum and library of medicine and science in the UK.
  • The Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities is a vibrant and dynamic hub for new medical humanities research, hosting national and international conferences, symposia and lectures. It also runs a regular reading group for academic staff and postgraduate students, which meets twice termly to discuss a wide range of topics and materials, both clinical and cultural.
  • The School of Arts works collaboratively with various medical institutions including St George’s Medical School, Imperial College and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It is also an official partner of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Opportunities for students have included a year’s free membership of the ICA, private views, discounts on all talks and events, free members' screenings and £3 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, up to 25% off ICA Artists' Editions and a monthly e-newsletter.
  • The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.

Information for international students

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • PGDip
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • PGCert
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Student Advice Service
+44 (0)20 3907 0700