Taught course

Medical Anthropology and Intensive Language

SOAS University of London · Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Entry requirements

We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.

Months of entry


Course content

ur MA Medical Anthropology 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.

This two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with a country in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language courses will enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

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.

Information for international students

For details, including English language requirements, please see SOAS website

Fees and funding

For details of postgraduate fees, please see SOAS website

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    full time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate Enquiries
+44 (0)20 7898 4700