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Culture, Health and Illness (CO7053)

Module Coordinators: Dr. Fiona Larkan
ECTS Value:                             5

This course explores concepts of ‘sickness’ and health-seeking behaviours across societies.  We take seriously diverse ways of knowing and treating personhood, the body, life and death, 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
•          Recognise the relevance of critical social perspectives
•          Evaluate the usefulness of theoretical models
•          Examine different knowledge paradigms
•          Critically reflect on policy and practice in 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

Indicative Resources
Reading list will be provided by module co-ordinator.  Additional course materials and lecture notes will be added to Blackboard.

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

Methods of Assessment
Assessment of the module will be based on participation in a formal classroom debate (30%) and submission of an essay of 2000 words on an assigned topic (70%). Students will have a choice of essay questions, each of which focuses on issues discussed during the module.


Last updated 31 October 2017 School Web Administrator (Email).