Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Anthropological Perspectives on Medical Practices

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Anthropological Sciences

DESCRIPTION Conceptions of health and the treatment of the body have become a growing area of interest within anthropological studies. This study unit will introduce students to the anthropological approach to health and medicine contextualizing the practices of diagnosis and treatment within changing notions of health (both in the West and across cultures). The study unit will look at: Cultural perspectives on health, Drugs in society, Psychiatry and Anthropology, New Reproductive Technologies, Care in health across cultures, alternative conceptions of health, Religion and the care of the body.

Study-Unit Aims:

This unit will aim to:
• provide students with an in depth understanding of anthropological approaches to the study of health and medicine;
• to enable students to become critically aware or the provision of health-care across a diversity of populations;
• enable students to consider the social and cultural implications of medicine across societies.

Learning Outcomes:

Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• provide an overview of the anthropological perspectives of health and medicine;
• highlight the challenges to the application of Western models of health and medicine in different cultural contexts;
• discuss health and medical within the broader societal context;
• produce an informed and comparative discussion of select themes in anthropology and health;
• demonstrate an awareness of the the major ethnographic literature on the topic;
• demonstrate knowledge of the clinically relevant applications of anthropology.

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• verbally present an argument on a select research topic within a group;
• construct an analytically solid argument within an academic essay format;
• know how to conduct a literature search including utilizing appropriate online sources.

All of these skills are transferable and will prove invaluable to students in other subjects as well in any future careers they undertake.

Reading List:

A Reader will be made available for the course. The following are general textbooks introducing the subject.


- SINGER, M. and ERICKSON, P.I. (Eds.), 2014. A companion to medical anthropology. John Wiley & Sons.
- SINGER, M. BAER , H. 2011. An Introduction to Medical Anthropology. Alta Mira Press.


- WINKELMAN, M., 2008. Culture and health: Applying medical anthropology. John Wiley & Sons.
- GOOD, B.J., FISCHER, M.M., WILLEN, S.S. and GOOD, M.D., 2010. A reader in medical anthropology: theoretical trajectories, emergent realities. John Wiley & Sons.
- KLEINMAN, A., 1995. Writing at the Margins. Discourse between anthropology and medicine. Berkeley: University of Californian Press.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (30 Minutes) No 40%
Assignment Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Jean-Paul Baldacchino
John Micallef
Gisella Orsini
Paul Sant Cassia
Victoria Sultana

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.