Key Concepts in Medical Anthropology

Subject POPH90208 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

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

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2011:

Semester 2, Parkville - 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 4-hour seminar every second week.
Total Time Commitment: 120 hours
Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: 505-402/502 Culture, health and illness
505-403/503 Key perspectives in medical anthropology
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Objectives, 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 the Disability Liaison Unit:


Dr Richard Chenhall


Centre for Health and Society
Melbourne School of Population Health
Tel: +61 3 8344 0826
Fax: +61 3 8344 0824


Academic Programs Office
Melbourne School of Population Health
Tel: +61 3 8344 9339
Fax: +61 3 8344 0824

Subject Overview: This subject aims to provide students with an overview of the principal concepts and theories in medical anthropology. It will provide critical insights on the interface of health, society, and culture and the nature of medical systems in indigenous, developing, and developed societies. This subject examines a range of classic and current theoretical debates within the discipline of anthropology: on rationality and cultural difference; objectivity and reflexivity; biotechnologies; governmentalities and biological citizenship; global health and medicine; modes of anthropological representation and the politics of applied anthropological research.
Objectives: On completion of this course students will:
  • understand the key concepts and theories used in medical anthropology
  • have a critical understanding of recent developments in theories of medical anthropology
  • understand how conceptions of health and illness and the forms and meaning that illness take are reflections of a particular social and cultural context
  • have developed the capacity to formulate comparative explanations of illness causation, drawing on a variety of explanatory models of cultural, social and behavioural determinants of health.
  • be able to contextualise socio-cultural studies and present them in terms of policy and practice within the field of medical anthropology
  • One in-class presentation of 20 minutes (equivalent of 1000 words) (20%)
  • Critical analysis of 1000 words (20%), due mid-semester
  • One 3,000 research essay (60%) due at the end of the semester.
Prescribed Texts: Good, B. et al. (2010). A Reader in Medical Anthropology: Theoretical trajectories, Emergent Realities. Wiley: London.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills: Upon completion of this subject a student should have:
  • Advanced written and oral communication skills
  • Advanced skills in reading critically within and across the discipline of medical anthropology
  • Advanced skills in critical analysis of relevant theories in medical anthropology.
Related Course(s): Master of Health Social Sciences
Master of Public Health
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Social Sciences
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Public Health
Social Health

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