Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2011-2012 (archived)


Department: Anthropology


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • This course aims to study the related issues of mental health, illness, intervention and drug use from a cross-cultural perspective.


  • Learning audit
  • Mental health and mental illness, a continuum?
  • Cross cultural psychiatry
  • Current western approaches to mental illness - paradigms and typologies
  • Race and psychiatry
  • Healing cultures: the therapeutic community
  • Comparing therapeutic communities (USA, UK, Japan)
  • The dream in human societies
  • The cultural construction of the unconscious - comparative approaches to the unconscious.
  • Shamanism, classical and contemporary
  • Concepts of mental health and mental illness among the Semai/Senoi
  • The historical and comparative context of drug use
  • Sacramental, recreational and therapeutic use of drugs
  • Ethnobotany
  • Types of drugs, licit, and illicit, in the west
  • Concepts of addiction
  • Socio-demographic trends
  • Aetiology of drug use
  • Legal and practical issues
  • Intervention strategies
  • Health education and promotion
  • Anthropology and HIV and AIDS research
  • Anthropology and altered states of consciousness research

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have an advanced understanding of the interrelationship between different cultural understandings of self and consciousness, sanity and madness and their associated historical and current healing practices.
  • Students will have an advanced knowledge of and insight into the main mental disorders and patterns of drug use and abuse, their treatment and their social implications in the Western context.
  • Have developed appreciation of a Social Sciences approach to understanding issues of mental health and mental illness in a cross-cultural context.
  • Have an advanced understanding of the cultural, political, economic, biological and pharmacological aspects of drug use, abuse treatment from a cross-cultural perspective
  • Gain an in depth insight into the cross-cultural use of psychedelic drug use.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Apply some key concepts and methods pf medical anthropology in relation to mental health issues at an advanced level.
  • Read and understand key medical anthropological texts in mental health matters.
Key Skills:
  • Communication: students should be able to express themselves clearly and concisely on relevant topics and explain why particular issues are important and/ or relevant.

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

  • Lectures are used to introduce new material (Subject Knowledge Learning Outcomes) and tutorials to allow students develop and demonstrate both subject knowledge and subject and key skills.
  • Assessment: A 5000 word essay allows students to demonstrate, at an advanced level, their integration of relevant anthropological theory with human data.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Tutorials 5 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 275
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay on relevant subject 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Essay Plan.

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