Key Concepts in Social Health

Subject 505-508 (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 lecture and a 1-hour tutorial 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 Alison Brookes


Centre for Health and Society

School of Population Health

Subject Overview:

This subject explores key ways that bodies and the people that inhabit them are understood in the social and medical sciences. How knowledge about bodies is constructed within medical and social sciences is investigated through theoretical understandings of class, race, culture and gender. Key topics are illustrated with reference to historical, contemporary, academic and popular literature which challenge commonly held understandings from both a western and cross-cultural perspective. Topics include: What is science? The roles of nature and nurture and debates about their impact on what makes us human. Bodies at different ages - understanding notions of childhood and ageing. The relationship between genetic science and technology and changing social understandings of family and kinship, biological determinism, disability and eugenic practices. How medical and artistic representations of bodies are informed by theory and practice and challenge the boundaries between art and science. How does the use of body modification challenge our understanding of what is human? How have changing historical and cultural understandings of disease impacted on social behaviours and expectations? Making sense of illness - how people understand their experiences of illness with reference to dominant cultural narratives.

  • understand social aspects of health and illness and cross-cultural aspects of health and illness
  • conduct an independent literature search and evaluation
  • analyse across a range of social science disciplines
  • apply social theory to health issues
  • critically analyse taken-for-granted assumptions, particularly in relation to Western scientific constructions of knowledge
  • apply social science theory to case studies
  • analyse health issues with cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity
Assessment: Review of academic literature, popular film, or artistic works addressing a relevant topic (approximately 2000 words) (40%); Major essay: critical analysis of a social health issue (approximately 3,000 words), due at end of semester (60%).
Prescribed Texts: None
Recommended Texts: None
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Notes: This subject is a Group 1 elective in the Master of Public Health.

Related Course(s): Master of Public Health
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)

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