Culture, Health and Illness

Subject 505-402 (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 1, - 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 lecture per week.
Total Time Commitment: Students should expect a total time commitment outside the stated contact hours of at least three hours for each hour of contact in this subject.
Prerequisites: None
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 Hans Baer


Centre for Health and Society

School of Population Health

Subject Overview:

This subject provides an introduction to critical medical anthropology, a rapidly growing and dynamic endeavour, which provides a link between social anthropology and biological anthropology. While the subject discusses various perspectives in medical anthropology, it focuses on critical medical anthropology which draws upon the interdisciplinary literature on political economy of health and world systems theory. The subject addresses topics such as health and the environment from foraging societies to the capitalist world system; the social origins of disease and suffering; medical systems in indigenous and pre-capitalist state societies; biomedicine; medical pluralism; health issues among Australian aborigines, the Maori, and peoples of Papua New Guinea; the anthropology of the body; and the struggle to create a healthy planet.

Objectives: This subject aims to provide students with an introduction to principal concepts and theories in medical anthropology and with critical insights on the interface of health, society, and culture and the nature of medical systems in indigenous, developing, and developed societies.
Assessment: Assessment is in the form of a mid-semester 1500-word essay (40%) and a final 2000-word end of semester essay (50%) and two 250 word abstracts on selected readings to be discussed in class, to be submitted during the semester (2x5%).
Prescribed Texts: None
Recommended Texts: A set of readings will be available for purchase.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills: Post-graduate students in social health, public health, or the health professions will provided with insights, concepts, and theories that will enable them to better provide health care in a diversity of settings, both clinical and public health, and to understand the political, economic, and social structural roots of disease and illness.
Links to further information:

This subject is a Group 1 elective in the Master of Public Health.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Social Health
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Health Care History)
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Health Ethics)
Graduate Diploma in Social Health (Medical Anthropology)

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