Taught course

Medical Humanities

Durham University · Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Entry requirements

At least one of the following:

  • A 2:1 undergraduate degree
  • Active enrolment on an intercalated UG/PG medical degree programme
  • At least five years work in a professional environment with relevance to health and/or medicine, with at least two years in some form of leadership role
  • Successful completion of the associated PG Certificate programme

Months of entry


Course content

The MA in Medical Humanities is an exciting and challenging course that applies the knowledge and insight of the humanities and social sciences to study and understand better what is meant by health and illness outside of a medical context and, in particular, to analyse how our thoughts and physical experiences become recognised as symptoms.

The MA is suitable if you have an undergraduate qualification in an area such as Anthropology; English; Geography; Law; Modern Languages and Cultures; Philosophy; Sociology; and related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. You may also benefit if you have a background in health and social care and are looking to bring humanities and social sciences perspectives to bear in your professional practice.

Learning from leading scholars in the subject, you will be joining an interdisciplinary MA led by the University’s Institute for Medical Humanities and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. The course blends face-to-face study with online learning to provide a fascinating and comprehensive introduction to the wide range of approaches to health taken by different academic disciplines.

Core modules include Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities and Reimagining Health Research: Methodologies in the Critical Medical Humanities while optional modules explore key philosophical issues in science and medicine and ethics, medicine and history. There is also a Critical Medical Humanities dissertation to complete.

Teaching will be through tutorial and seminars and scaffolded assignments where work is broken down into small units with a defined subject focus. We also offer the option of studying the course online as a distance learner.

As a student on this course, you will become a member of the Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers (PGECR) network in Medical Humanities, where you will benefit from regular seminars, conferences and social events.

Course structure

Core modules:

Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities (online) provides advanced training in the interdisciplinary field of critical medical humanities and strengthens your understanding of both its development from the less complex context of initial medical humanities study and its distinct contribution to health research and current challenges. This module will also build your knowledge of concepts, theories and approaches essential to research in the critical medical humanities.

Reimagining Health Research: Methodologies in the Critical Medical Humanities (online) equips you with the advanced knowledge and skills to be able to critically appraise key health research methodologies used in the critical medical humanities. The module will enhance your ability to assess ideas and evidence from a variety of sources and then choose, justify, or critique work done across key disciplines. It will also encourage you to be reflective and review your own existing competences as well as nurture your ability to work across disciplines.

Critical Medical Humanities Dissertation gives you the opportunity to conduct an independent research project in a specialist area, applying the techniques developed in the research methods modules.

Examples of optional modules:

  • Literary Masculinity at the Fin-de-siècle (online)
  • Illness as Narrative Practice (online)
  • Divergence, Deviance, and Disability in 19th Century Literature
  • Critical Theory and Frameworks and Selected Topics in World Literature
  • Visual Culture: Theory and Practice (double module)
  • Science and The Enlightenment
  • Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine
  • Ethics, Medicine and History
  • Phenomenology and The Sciences of Mind
  • Gender Theory and Feminist Philosophy
  • Understanding Risk
  • Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience
  • Social Policy and Society
  • Contemporary Issues in Medical Law (online)
  • Sociology of Health and Medicine
  • Geographies of Life and Living
  • Anthropology of Global Health (half module)
  • Society Health and Wellbeing (half module)
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropology of Hormones (half module)
  • Advanced Studies in the Anthropology of Health Inequality (half module)
  • Advanced Studies in Anthropology of Tobacco (half module)
  • Medical Law and Ethics (half module)
  • Frontiers in Biolaw (half module)
  • Contemporary Issues in Medical Law (online)
  • Sociology of Health and Medicine

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Distance learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Distance learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions