Biomedicine, Culture and Society

Subject ANTH30016 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2015.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Not offered 2015
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Anthropology at levels 1 and 2

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 Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


To be advised

Subject Overview:

Biomedicine (or ‘Western’ medicine) is ever expanding its reach across the globe, reshaping human life from the embryo to the grave. Despite claims to objectivity based in the scientific method, biomedicine is thoroughly enmeshed within cultures, social structures, and political systems. This subject will introduce a wide range of scholarship from medical anthropology, medical sociology and cognate disciplines that examines the intersection of biomedicine with other systems of healing and analyses its impact on the experience of health, illness and personhood. Beginning with classic texts in the anthropology and sociology of biomedicine, the course will explore a range of topics including the global expansion of pharmaceutical markets; outsourcing medical research to developing countries; transnational surrogacy; organ, blood and egg donation and markets; ‘ethnic’ drugs; and genomics and race. Theories considered will include medical pluralism, the medicalisation of life and the globalisation of biomedicine, normality and standardization, risk, bioeconomies, biosociality and biological citizenship.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should:

  • Become sensitive to a range of beliefs, values and knowledge on biomedicine and how these influence thought and behaviour;
  • Appreciate and be able to articulate and critically assess a range of theoretical debates on biomedicine;
  • Develop an understanding of social, ethical and cultural context through the contextualisation of judgements, developing a critical self-awareness, being open to new ideas and possibilities and by constructing an argument;
  • Have experience integrating empirical examples with theoretical debates from different disciplines;
  • Demonstrate the ability to appraise, synthesise and communicate knowledge intelligibly through essay writing and tutorial discussion.


A class report of 500 words (10%) due at the end of March, an online exercise of 1000 words (25%) due at the end of April, and an essay of 2500 words (65%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle Requirement: This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A reading pack will be made available to students

Recommended Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is available as breadth to non-Bachelor of Arts students

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Anthropology

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