Cultural World of Health and Illness

University of Newcastle

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Cultural World of Health and Illness

  • Host University

    University of Newcastle

  • Location

    Newcastle, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Global Health, Health Administration, Health Science, Indigenous Studies, Intercultural Development, International Health, Public Health

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Assumed Knowledge

    40 units of study at 1000 level

    Replacing Course(s)

    This course replaces the following course(s): SOCA3325. Students who have successfully completed SOCA3325 are not eligible to enrol in SOCA2325.

  • 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
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview


    This course offers an introduction to medical and critical medical anthropology, and the related cross-cultural and inter-cultural belief systems that relate to health and illness. We will explore different cultural understandings and conceptualisations of health and illness causality, and consider the practices different cultural groups use and apply to take care of their health and illness. Using a wide range of ethnographic case studies, the different lectures will examine cross-cultural and inter-cultural approaches to the social construction of health and illness, the role of symbolism in healing, shamanistic practices, embodiment and emotions, biomedicine and science-based approaches to health and illness, reproduction, gender, health and surrogacy, cultural differences between health and well-being, alternative healing practices, health promotion and regulation, bodily and mental disorders, as well as the working with medical technologies (such as organ transplantation, and more generally, screening the body).

    Learning Outcomes

    1. An appreciation of the depth and the breadth of knowledge in the social sciences

    2. A capacity to think critically and creatively about societies and culture, as well as their personal participation in and contribution to their society and culture

    3. High level oral and written communication skills

    4. Responsiveness to the demands of the workplace, the broader community, and engagement in development studies and with applied approaches.

    5. An understanding of the different theoretical perspectives used to study cultural practices of health and illness

    6. Knowledge of the way in which experiences are culturally constituted and socially controlled

    7. An ability to critically analyse cultural understandings, representations and social practices

    8. Skills in giving oral presentations, writing academic essays, undertaking and contributing to applied and policy research.


    Topics may include:

    Theories of the way in which experiences are symbolically, and socially and culturally constituted
    Theories of social and cultural approaches to health and illness
    Ethnographic studies of how relationships are negotiated, understandings mediated and meanings constructed, with a particular emphasis on cultural difference
    Classic and contemporary ethnographic studies of health and illness
    The political economy of health and illness.

    Assessment Items

    Essay: Essay 1

    Essay: Essay 2

    Presentation: Presentations, Tutorial Participation

    Contact Hours


    Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

    Face-to face or online lecture for 1 Hour per Week for the Full Term

    Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

    Tutorial for 1 Hour per Week for the Full Term or Engagement in online tutorial as well as self-directed learning

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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.