Medical Anthropology: Local and Global Perspectives

University of Queensland

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Medical Anthropology: Local and Global Perspectives

  • Host University

    University of Queensland

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Anthropology, Biomedical Sciences

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description
    The course is intended to provide students with a broad understanding of the field of medical anthropology including cross cultural issues relating to health and illness. Topics to be covered include broad thematic areas such as the intersections between culture and epidemiology, and specific policy-oriented subjets such as migrant and refugee health in Australia and internationally.
    Learning Objectives
    After successfully completing this course you should be able to:
    1. To acquaint students with the field of medical anthropology
    2. To provide students with an understanding of the applicability of anthropological concepts and methods to health theory, research and healthcare delivery
    3. To introduce students to contemporary issues in medical anthropology relevant to health policy and delivery;
    4. To provide insight into structural political and economic conditions that have an impact on health care delivery.
    5. To provide students with an understanding of social and cultural aspects of health and illness.
    6. To foster discussion and debate amongst students of key issues in medical anthropology.
    Class Contact
    3 Contact hours
    Class participation
    Type: Discussion
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
    Due Date: Throughout semester
    Weight: 10%
    Task Description: Class participation accounts for 10% of your overall grade.
    To mark your participation in class the lecturer will take into account: Whether you have read the weekly readings and your participation in discussions. The lecturer will record your participation mark on a continuous basis as the term progresses.
    The point of this assessment is to train students to engage with concepts in the discipline and to increase their confidence in debate and intellectual exchange.
    In-class test Concepts Lectures 1-3
    Type: Exam - Mid Semester During Class
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 3, 4, 5
    Due Date: Early Semester
    Weight: 20%
    Reading: 10 minutes
    Duration: 30 minutes
    Format: Multiple-choice, Short answer
    Task Description: The in-class test will contain multiple choice and short-answer questions on concepts discussed in Lectures 1-3.
    Essay plan and annotated bibliography
    Type: Annotated Bibliography
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Due Date: Mid Semester
    Weight: 30%
    1000 words
    Task Description: Students will prepare an essay plan and an annotated bibliography. This task will allow students to develop their research skills and give students feedback from the course coordinator on their work toward the research essay, which is due in the final week of semester (see Assessment Item #3 for essay topics).
    The annotated bibliography should give a summary of the central ideas and significance of 4 journal articles and/or books or book chapters that you will later refer to in your research essay. For this assessment, these should all be published, peer-reviewed literature and not media pieces, blogs etc. Do not cut and paste the abstract of published journal articles. This will be picked up by Turnitin. You need to read and briefly summarise in your own words the central argument of the article and its significance to the argument you will make in your research essay.
    The essay plan should state the central argument you will make in your research essay; give an outline of the structure of your research essay; and identify which literature and ethnographic examples you will use to support your argument in the research essay.
    Research Essay
    Type: Essay
    Learning Objectives Assessed: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Due Date: End of Semester
    Weight: 40%
    Task Description: The research essay will focus on one of four topics within medical anthropology: the clinical encounter; the health of indigenous people; people, environment and health responses; and cultural understandings of traumatic violence. This exercise builds on the essay plan and annotated bibliography. Choose one of the following topics on which to write an analytical essay of 2500 words:
    1. The clinical encounter: Healthcare procurement often takes place in the context of a consultation between patient and healer. This relationship is true within biomedicine and it is also true in other healing traditions. The clinical encounter does not necessarily have to be between a patient and a doctor, but can be extended to a variety of settings and traditions in which individuals and/or families consult and engage with healers of various types. Write an essay about the clinical encounter in comparative perspective where examples are taken from at least two different healing traditions.
    2. The health of indigenous people: In many countries, indigenous populations have a higher disease burden as compared to the general population. There are a number of social, economic, infrastructural and other reasons for higher prevalence of illness and disease amongst indigenous populations. Write an essay describing key issues and themes in the health status of any one chosen indigenous population from anywhere in the world. Analyse reasons for the state of health among your chosen population and make recommendations for improvements to health status.
    3. People, environment and health responses: Environmental forces can cause serious health problems in human societies. Choose one type of environmentally-related health problem (e.g., skin cancer, lung diseases), and analyse how cultural factors can mitigate or heighten its effects.
    4. Cultural understandings of traumatic violence: Violence is everywhere, its impacts are complex and people often communicate their pain through local idioms of distress. Choose one case example from the literature and analyse how people communicate distress caused by violence.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.