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Master of Philosophy in Medical Anthropology

Within the Division of Social Sciences, the course shall be administered by the School of Anthropology. The regulations made by the divisional board are as follows:

  • 1. The Division of Social Sciences shall elect for 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 other instruction. The course director shall be responsible to the Standing Committee.

  • The examination shall consist of the following:

  • 1. Qualifying Examination

    Every candidate will be required to satisfy the examiners in an examination for which, if he or she passes at the appropriate level, he or she will be allowed to proceed to the second year of the M.Phil. Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Medical Anthropology for at least three terms, and will, when entering for the examinations, be required to produce a certificate from their supervisor to this effect. Every candidate for the M.Phil. qualifying examination will be required to satisfy the examiners in four papers, described below, to be taken in the Trinity Term of the academic year in which the candidate's name is first entered on the Register of M.Phil. Students or, with the approval of the Divisional Board, in a subsequent year. Papers 1, 2 and 3 will each be assessed by a three-hour paper. Paper 4 (option) may be assessed either by one three-hour paper or by coursework essay. For those taking Paper 4 assessed by coursework essay, the essay must be submitted electronically via the University approved online assessment platform not later than noon of the Thursday of the second week of Trinity Term; each essay must be anonymous, accompanied by confirmation that it is the candidate’s own work, and submitted in electronic file format. The following four papers shall be taken:

    • (1) Critical Medical Anthropology

      The scope of this paper includes discussion of cross-cultural concepts of health, disease, sickness, pain, illness causation, diagnosis and treatment, from conjoined socio-cultural 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 co-existence of conventional, alternative, and traditional health systems.

    • (2) Biocultural Approaches to Medicine

      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) Anthropologies of the Body

      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 the list of those available, published by the end of the third week of Michaelmas Term.

  • 2. Final Examination

    Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Medical Anthropology for at least three terms, and will, when entering for the final examination, be required to produce a certificate from their supervisor to this effect. The final examination shall be taken in the Trinity Term of the academic year following that in which the candidate's name is first entered on the Register of M.Phil. Students or, with the approval of the Divisional Board, in a subsequent year.

    Each candidate shall be required:

    • (1) to submit evidence of practical work and a research proposal in accordance with I below;

    • (2) to submit a thesis in accordance with II below;

    • (3) to present himself or herself for oral examination if required by the examiners. The oral examination may be on the candidate's written assignments, or dissertation, or both.

  • I. Methods of fieldwork and social research

    • The satisfactory completion of a course of practical work in (i) ethnographic fieldwork methods, including participant observation, archival research, in-depth interviewing, questionnaire design, coding and qualitative data analysis; (ii) basic principles in descriptive statistics and statistical inference for the analysis of quantitative social science data; (iii) language-focused methods of data collection and their interpretation.

    • Candidates are required to choose any two of the three courses listed above and shall upload to the University approved online assessment platform by noon on Thursday of fifth week of the third term of the second year of the course the portfolio of the two courses of practical work completed, together with a research proposal, accompanied by a statement that they are the candidate's own work except where otherwise indicated. 

      The research proposal should not exceed 2,500 words. It need not be on the theme of the thesis, but should reflect the candidate’s competence in conceiving and structuring an independent research project.

  • II. Thesis

    Each candidate shall be required to submit a thesis of not more than 30,000 words (excluding references and appendices) on a subject approved by the supervisor. He or she shall send to the Teaching Committee of the School of Anthropology, with the written approval of his or her supervisor, and on the form provided for that purpose, a preliminary title of the thesis, together with a paragraph describing its scope, by noon on the Thursday of the fifth week of the Trinity term of the first year of the course. A further form, identical in its provision, and confirming or amending the earlier submission as necessary, shall be submitted to the above Committee by noon on the Monday of second week of Michaelmas Term in the academic year following that in which his or her name was entered on the Register of M.Phil. Students. The thesis must be submitted via the University approved online assessment platform not later than noon on Thursday of the fifth week of Trinity Full Term of the second year of the M.Phil. The thesis must be anonymous, accompanied by confirmation that it is the candidate's own work, and submitted in electronic file format. The thesis 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 title page of the thesis.

    The Examiners shall require a successful candidate to deposit a copy of his or her thesis in the Tylor Library. If the thesis is superseded by a D.Phil. thesis by the same student partly using the same material, the Divisional Board of Social Sciences may authorise the withdrawal of the M.Phil. thesis from the Tylor Library. Such candidates will be required to sign a form stating whether they give permission for their thesis to be consulted.

  • III. Resits

    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.