Master of Science by Coursework in Medical Anthropology

Differences from 2016/17 to 2023/24

  • 1. The Social Sciences Divisional Boardcourse shall electbe forunder the supervision of the course a Standing Committee, namely the Teaching Committee of the School of Anthropology, which shall have power to arrange lectures and otherMuseum instructionEthnography. 

  • 2. The course directorCandidates will be responsiblerequired to this committee.

  • 2. Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Medical Anthropology for at least three terms, and will, when entering for the examination, be required to produce a certificate from their supervisor to this effect.

  • 3. Candidates will becomplete requiredthe following three core courses:
    • (a) Critical Medical Anthropology (Paper 1) assessed by two essays each of no more than 2,500 words, to presentbe themselvessubmitted forby writtennoon and,on whereThursday invited,of oralweek examinations,0 andof Hilary term.
    • (b) Biocultural Approaches to submitMedicine three(Paper copies2) assessed by two essays each of ano dissertationmore inthan prescribed2,500 formwords, to be submitted by noon on anThursday approvedof topicweek as4 definedof belowTrinity term.

    • (c) Anthropologies of the Body (Paper 3) assessed by two essays each of no more than 2,500 words, to be submitted by noon on Thursday of week 6 of Trinity term.
  • 4. Candidates will take one option paper (Paper 4) from a list of those approved by the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography to be published by the end of week 2 of Michaelmas term. The writtenoption examinationpaper will consistbe assessed by one or more submissions, full details of fourwhich papersare onset the syllabus describedout in the ScheduleCourse Handbook.

  • 5. Each candidate Candidates will be required to submitcomplete a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words, on a subject selected in consultation with the supervisor and approvedan by the Chairabstract of Examinersup to 250 words. The proposed title of the dissertation together with a paragraph describing its scope and the supervisor's written endorsement, must be submitted to the Chair of Examiners by Tuesday of the fifth week of Trinity Term.

  • 6. Three typewritten copies of the dissertation must be delivered not later than noon on the last Wednesday in August.

  • 6. All assessments must be submitted using the University approved online submission system. Technical information on the requirements for online submissions is provided in the yearCourse inHandbook. 
  • 7. whichCandidates may be requested to attend on oral examination on any of the examination ispapers taken, to the Chair of the Examiners, M.Sc. in Medical Anthropology, cand/o Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford. The dissertation shall be provided with an abstract of up to 250 words, to be placed immediately after the title page. The word count shall be stated on the outside front cover of the thesis.

  • 7. An oral examination, if held, may be on the candidate's written papers, or dissertation, or both.

  • 8. The examiners may award a distinction for excellence in the whole examination.

    The four papers will be taken to constitute Part I of the degree and the dissertation to constitute Part II. At the close of the written examinations, the examiners will publish a list of those who have satisfied them in Part I.

  • 9. In order to pass the degree, a student must pass all its assessed components. Where one or more components are failed, the student will be given the opportunity to re-sit or re-submit them once, as the case may be. Any subsequent award of the degree on successful completion of all the assessed components may be delayed by up to three terms, i.e. until the Examination Board next meets.


Every candidate will be required to satisfy the examiners in four papers as follows:

  • 1.  Concepts of disease, illness, health and medicine in global perspective

    The scope of this paper includes discussion of cross-cultural concepts of health, disease, sickness, pain, illness causation, diagnosis and treatment, from conjoined sociocultural perspectives and human ecology. It explores metaphor and narrative at the interface of biological and cultural processes, the distribution of disease patterns in the light of environmental change, social inequality, global mobility and marginality, and the coexistence of conventional, alternative and traditional health systems.

  • 2. Theory and practice of bio-medicine and of other medical systems

    The scope of this paper includes issues of public health and policy on a comparative and global basis. It draws on ethnographies of particular societies to illustrate and test theoretical claims in medical anthropology. It discusses infectious diseases, specific health campaigns, evolutionary trends and life histories, alongside culturally defined concepts of risk, vulnerability, fate, evil, pollution, divination, religion, and shamanism.

  • 3. Critical medical anthropology

    The scope of this paper comprises ecological and socio-cultural perspectives, and explores links to other fields and disciplines, including the place of material culture in medicine. It includes a critique of basic assumptions and methods in medical anthropology and consideration of the concept of well-being as being broader than conventional concepts of health. Themes for discussion include the phenomenology of the body, growth and personhood, gender, ageing and dying, notions of resistance and resilience, relationships between biodiversity and adaptability, reproduction and fertility, and nutrition.

  • 4. Option paper

    Candidates must select one option paper from those taught each year for the M.Sc. in Social Anthropology. Titles of options will be made available by the end of the third week of Michaelmas Term at the beginning of each academic year, and candidates may select their option from any of Lists A, B, or C.