Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)




Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with an interdisciplinary conceptual framework for understanding the nature of health and illness and issues of health policy and provision.
  • This will be primarily based in Sociology but will also draw on Geography, Anthropology and History as these disciplines come together in the field of Health Studies.


  • In this module we will begin by reviewing issues of the definition of health and illness, the nature of the medical model, social constructionist and postmodernist conceptions of health and illness, issues of inequality in health, the history of human health and disease, the relationships among gender, health and professional identity and the development and future of health care institutions.
  • We will then turn to issues of madness, mental health and mental illness.
  • Finally we will examine issues of health and underdevelopment in global cities with particular reference to urban social polarization.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the course students will: Understand the nature of the social account of Health and Illness.
  • Be able to employ the conceptual programme of the Sociology of Health and of Health Studies in understanding the nature of health and health systems in contemporary advanced industrial societies.
  • Be able to relate the sociological account of health and illness in advanced industrial societies to issues of public policy formation and implementation in such societies.
  • Be able to articulate an argument about health systems and health policies which employs the findings of actual empirical studies in the Sociology of Health and Medicine.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module the typical student will be able to:
  • Evaluate sociological arguments and evidence in health contexts SSS1.
  • Employ the conceptual apparatus of Sociology in relation to health issues SSS2.
  • Undertake and present health related work in a scholarly fashion SSS3.
  • Apply theoretical and empirical knowledge to an appropriate sociological question in the field of health SSS4.
  • Employ theoretical and methodological expertise as appropriate in health related area. SSS6.
  • Be able to convey, both orally and in writing, the meaning of abstract methodological concepts with health relevance in ways which are meaningful to others SSS7.
  • Perceive the relevance of, and relate their sociological knowledge to contemporary issues in health and related issues SSS8.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module the typical student will be able to:
  • Demonstrate numeracy skills a specified in KS2a i.e. ability to read and interpret complex tables, graphs and charts.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of IT resources as specified in KS3 ??? a-d inclusive.
  • Demonstrate a capacity to improve own learning and performance as specified in KS5 -a-f inclusive.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is based on lectures and seminars and is structured around the learning outcomes above.
  • Lectures are designed to provide a broad framework by addressing major themes, ideas, issues and debates.
  • Students will be encouraged to develop their learning skills in relation to note taking, wider reading and further study, and time management.
  • Students will be encouraged and expected to be active participants in Seminars.
  • Assessment is by summative essay and a summative examination.
  • titles/questions will be oriented towards the learning outcomes.
  • These modes of assessment are intended to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of this area of study, and demonstrate their ability to draw on and use appropriate conceptual language.
  • Formative essays, given part way through the module, are designed to help students develop the skills and abilities required for summative work.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Total 200
Lectures 21 1 Per Week 1 Hour 21
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 Hour 10
Preparation and Reading 169

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one two-hour written examination 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one assessed essay 1500-3000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

2 essays of 1500-2000 words

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University