• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Culture, Health and Medicine
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Philosophy, Sociology, Medicine, Health
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Ta Ta
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

This course is a survey introduction to advanced topics in the social scientific and humanistic study of health and medicine as it relates to culture. It is a discussion-based course focusing on theoretical and methodological questions in medical anthropology research and applied work in the health field. We begin by addressing how to employ ethnographic research to illuminate critical concerns about the social, political, economic, environmental, and historical context of embodiment, health, disease, illness experience, and therapeutic efficacy. Throughout this course, students will be exploring a selection of the wide range of subject matter and geographic regions that encompass medical anthropology. We will begin with the cultural conventions of biomedicine situated in the West and then incorporate some of the healing practices and medical afflictions around the world studied by medical anthropologists. Overall, the thematic topics include: theories of disease causation and healing efficacy; medicalization and the scientific gaze; production of medical knowledge; mental health; public health discourse and risk; the internationalization of pharmaceutical research; the possibilities and perils of new medical technologies; emergent forms of everyday health practices; the ethics of medical tourism; and health inequities. The objective is to provide an overview of theoretical and applied social scientific approaches to the study of culture, health, and medicine.

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. Demonstrate a critical appreciation of the key concepts and approaches in medical anthropology.
  2. Demonstrate and apply the importance of culture in health related work.
  3. Engage in health work and understand the likely social, cultural, political and economic factors influencing health, illness and sickness.
  4. Reflect critically on their own experiences of health, illness and sickness in the light of the concepts and methods introduced in this course.

Indicative Assessment

Presentation: 30 minutes 10% (LO 1, 4)

Online Discussion Postings: 3 postings each approximately 500 words 10% each for a total of 30%  (LO 1, 4)

Research Project: 5000 words 60% (LO 1, 2, 3, 4)

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.


In person - 130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 24 hours of contact over 12 weeks of class discussion; and b) 106 hours of independent student research, reading and writing. Online - 130 hours of total student learning time over 12 weeks made up from listening to recorded discussions each week, readings, research and online activities.

Preliminary Reading

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 $6000
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
7606 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person N/A
7643 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 Online View

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