• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Anthropology
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Philosophy, Sociology, Medicine, Health

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. 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, including 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. 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 provides 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. 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, and 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:

Upon Successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss the relevance of anthropological concepts for studying health and healing.
  2. Identify key features of anthropological approaches to health and healing.
  3. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of different anthropological approaches to health and healing.
  4. Formulate anthropological areas of inquiry and questions to be applied to issues of health and healing.
  5. Recognize differences and similarities in various healing systems.
  6. Work collaboratively to communicate the social significance of important medical and health issues.
  7. Demonstrate skills in critical reading, thinking, writing, and public presentation.

Indicative Assessment

In class written reflections, 10 x 200 words (20%) LO 1, 2, 3, 5, 7

Presentation, 10 min (10%) LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7

Essay: 2,500 words (20%) LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7

Group Project: Poster, 1000 words (50%) LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7

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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 36 hours of combined lecture and tutorials over 12 weeks; and b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level courses or with permission of the Course Convener. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ANTH6026.

Prescribed Texts

Baer, Hans A., Merrill Singer, and Ida Susser, 2013. Medical Anthropology and the World System: Critical Perspectives, Third Edition. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Good, Byron J., 1994. Medicine, Rationality, and Experience: An Anthropological Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lock, Margaret, and Vinh-Kim Nguyen, 2010. An Anthropology of Biomedicine. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Sargent, C.F., and T.M. Johnson, 1996. Medical Anthropology: Contemporary Theory and Method, Revised Edition.  Westport, CT: Praeger.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $5280
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7523 21 Jul 2025 28 Jul 2025 31 Aug 2025 24 Oct 2025 In Person N/A

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