• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Health Medicine and the Body, Philosophy, Sociology More...
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Trang Ta
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

The course provides an introduction to the field of medical anthropology. It includes the application of different forms of social and cultural analysis to the study of health, illness, and healing. Examples of medical systems and medical practices are drawn from a range of cultures including our own. In the first part of the course the scope of medical anthropology will be covered and different approaches to the understanding of the body discussed. An important aspect of medical anthropology is the study of the social and cultural construction of illness and illness categories, healers and their roles, the foundations of efficacy in healing, and the place of individual and social agency in health and illness which will be covered in detail. In the second half of the course health and human rights, pharmaceuticals and ethics of medical research and organ trafficking will be the centre of the discussion.

The course aims to provide a critical understanding of health care systems and political economy of health, illness and healing with a specific focus on the context in which health inequalities are experienced, how they are historically constructed and why they are maintained in the current realities. In this course we will use case studies from across the world to explore the historical, environmental, biosocial, political economic and socio-cultural factors that influence individual and collective therapy management, local healing practices, national health care, and medical research and health policies in their local, national and international context. In addition, the case studies will be used to analyse fundamental medical anthropological concepts and theories and to critically analyse academic writing.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Students who satisfy the requirements of this course will have the knowledge and skills:

  • to demonstrate a critical appreciation of the key concepts and approaches in medical anthropology
  • to engage in health work and understand the likely social, cultural, political and economic factors influencing health, illness and sickness
  • to reflect critically on their own experiences of health and inequality in Australia in the light of the concepts and methods introduced in this course.

Indicative Assessment

Class wiki contributions (25%), 1000-word class glossary entry (20%), annotated bibliography and abstract (15%), 2500-word essay (30%) and tutorial participation (10%)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


2 hours of lectures and one hour of tutorial per week.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Preliminary Reading

*No required reading. However, the following texts are recommended as background reading:

Brown, P.J (1998) Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology: Second Edition.  Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.

Sargent, C.F and T.M Johnson (1996) Medical Anthropology: ContemporaryTheory and Method, Revised Edition.  Westport, CT: Praeger.

Baer, Hans A., Merrill Singer, and Ida Susser (2003) Medical Anthropology and the World System. Praeger Publishers.

Areas of Interest

  • Anthropology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Health Medicine and the Body
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology
  • Medicine
  • Health




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1164
2014 $2478
2013 $2472
2012 $2472
2011 $2424
2010 $2358
2009 $2286
2008 $2286
2007 $2286
2006 $2286
2005 $2286
2004 $1926
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $2574
2014 $3246
2013 $3240
2012 $3240
2011 $3240
2010 $3240
2009 $3240
2008 $3240
2007 $3132
2006 $3132
2005 $3132
2004 $2916
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
2023 24 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 06 Jun 2014 In Person N/A

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