Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Health, Knowledge and Practice

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION The study-unit will be divided into three topic clusters:

1) Epistemology: Medical epistemology: the nature of medical knowledge and the philosophy of science in medicine; social epistemology: social knowledge, patient knowledge and health; epistemology of the medical setting: diagnostic methods, illness narratives and subjective knowledge in the clinical setting;
2) Health Literacy, Patient empowerment and Health Promotion: explored and discussed as determinants of a range of health-related behaviours and the outcomes of patient communication and public health efforts;
3) Bioethics: key theories of ethical practice applied to medicine.

All lectures will conclude with a student-led discussion on related topics, case studies or clinical situations.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to:
• introduce the major current theories in philosophy of science;
• problematize the centrality of objectivist knowledge in medicine and highlight the importance of patients' subjective knowledge and narrative in the clinical setting;
• explore the epistemological issues which emerge from the interaction between health professionals, especially those between doctors and patients;
• highlight the important determinants of a range of health-related behaviours and the outcomes of patient communication and public health efforts;
• introduce models in health psychology relevant to health literacy;
• introduce the key bioethical theories and apply them to discussing case studies within contemporary medical situations.

Learning Outcomes:

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

• apply different models of philosophy of science to the modern medical setting by discussing issues such as evidence based medicine, and limitations of knowledge in medicine;
• describe and discuss issues such as: the metaphysics, logic and epistemology of diagnosis; the role of narrative thinking and subjective knowledge in the clinical setting; therapeutic knowledge in modern medicine;
• describe and discuss issues such as: The patient’s subjective knowledge of health and disease; Life narrative, health narrative and illness narrative in the clinical setting;
• give accounts of psychological theories related to health literacy such as: health belief model; protection motivation theory; extended parallel process model; stages of change; social learning theory; theory of planned behaviour;
• apply key ethical theories to discussion of clinical case studies.

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

• think critically about contemporary social issues during classroom discussions and written assignments, and use classical/contemporary theory to address them;
• use online and library resources selectively and critically to augment study-unit material, navigate with confidence through online resources and understand how to distinguish between generic web sites and serious academic and professional tools;
• contribute effectively and confidently during focused group discussions, using logical arguments and applying the relevant theories;
• present a reasoned and well structured assignment on a set topic using recognized citation and referencing methods effectively and consistently;
• deliver a presentation of a set topic , working as a member of a team and using IT tools effectively.

All of these skills are transferable and will prove useful to students in a variety of fields.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


- MARCUM, J.A., 2008. An introductory philosophy of medicine: Humanizing modern medicine. Springer Science & Business Media.
- BAILLE, H., McGEEHAN, J. THOMAS, G. 2012, Health Care Ethics, Pearson.
- HUBLEY, J. and COPEMAN, J., 2013. Practical health promotion. Polity.


- STANLEY, K. W. 2014. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Cambridge University Press.
- MONTGOMERY K. 2005 How Doctors Think. Oxford University Press.
- ASHCROFT, R.E., DAWSON, A., DRAPER, H. and MCMILLAN, J., 2007. Principles of health care ethics. John Wiley & Sons.
- TONES, K. and GREEN, J., 2004. Health promotion: planning and strategies. UK: Sage.
- KUHSE, H., SCHÜKLENK, U. and SINGER, P., 2015. Bioethics: an anthology. John Wiley & Sons.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study, Seminar and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 30%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 70%

LECTURER/S Jurgen R. Gatt
Gillian M. Martin (Co-ord.)
Ventura Stephanie Savona
Raymond Zammit

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 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.