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Culture, Health and Illness

Module Coordinator: Dr Fiona Larkan
ECTS Value: 5

This course explores sickness across societies, taking seriously diverse ways of knowing and treating disorder and disease.  We view health and illness in their social context arguing that disease is never just about biology but must be examined in historically specific sociocultural frameworks.  This is a highly interactive module design, which requires thoughtful participation from students throughout.


Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this module the student will be able to

  • Describe health, illness and disease as the complex intertwining of social-cultural, gender, biological, political, and economic, factors
  • Recognise the relevance of critical social perspectives on health and illness
  • Critically assess different knowledge paradigms
  • Identify the impact of cultural norms on the policies, systems and practice of medicine.


Module Content
Introduction – Illness and disease in the field.  The problem of ‘belief’
The medical gaze – biomedicine as cultural knowledge
Interpreting affliction – chronic conditions
Matters of life and death
Politics and epistemology – AIDS in South Africa
Mental health


Methods of Teaching and Student Learning
This one week intensive module will combine lectures, case studies, seminars, group exercises and a student led debate. 

Last updated 23 November 2016 School Web Administrator (Email).