Medicine and Culture

Subject 136-528 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: One 2 hour Seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: 2 contact hours/week, 8 additional hours/week. Total of 10 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Usually admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours or a postgraduate coursework program.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr James Bradley


Dr James Bradley

Subject Overview: Over the ages people have deployed various methods - metaphysical, magical or the pure empirical - to combat the ravages of disease. Bloodletting, cupping, leaching, doses of highly poisonous chemicals, blisters, copious draughts of mineral water, hypnotisn and much more besides, have been used to intervene in the course of disease. But what was the relationship between different models of the body and its ailments, and the therapeutic methods that medical practitioners have used to combat illness? Medicine and Culture will take a therapeutic perspective to answer this question. Our focus will be on four different themes: plural medicines (the historical understanding of disease and the cure of the body in non-Western cultures); the rise of bio-medical models of disease and subsequent transformations in therapy; the uneasy relationship between alternative (heterodox ) and orthodox medicine; and a case study of Public Health, a specialism founded on the notion that disease could be precented by the manipulation of the physical environment.
Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject will
  • have a critical understanding of the role of public health policy and intervention in social health outcomes;
  • have an understanding of the role of the state and individual liberty in the history of public health;
  • have an appreciation of the role of culture in public health regimes;
  • have refined skills in historical contextual analysis;
  • have extended skills in inter-disciplinary approaches to socio-historical analysis;
  • have a refined capacity to understand and analyse complex systems over time;
  • have developed skills in historical research.
Assessment: A 1500 word seminar diary 30 per cent (due at the end of semester), a 500 word essay proposal and plan 10 per cent (due mid-semester), a 3000 word research essay 50 per cent (due at the end of semester) and class participation 10 per cent. A hurdle requirement of 80 per cent attendance of seminars required.
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available for purchase from the University Bookshop.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • New Generic Skills: Comprehension of the subtle interplay between science and medicine, and culture and society Development of analytical and communication skill Ability to conduct independent research, using primary and secondary sources to mount an effective argument.
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Social Health
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Health Care History)
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Medical Anthropology)
M.A.History & Philosophy of Science (Advanced Seminars & Shorter Thesis)
Master of Arts (International Studies)(Adv. Seminars and Shorter Thesis)
Master of Arts (Science, Communication and Society)
Master of Development Studies (Gender & Development)
Master of Social Health (Aboriginal Health)
Master of Social Health (Health Ethics)
Master of Social Health (Health Policy)
Master of Social Health (Interdisciplinary)
Master of Social Health (Medical Anthropology)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science
Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies
History and Philosophy of Science
Social Theory

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