Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module ANTH1041: Health, Illness and Society

Department: Anthropology

ANTH1041: Health, Illness and Society

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to the concepts, approaches and methods of medical anthropology and evolutionary medicine, as multi- and interdisciplinary fields.
  • To promote the value of a multidisciplinary perspective to the study of health and illness.
  • To give an insight into how social, cultural, biological and evolutionary factors interact in the field of health and disease.
  • To show the potential for medical anthropology and evolutionary medicine to contribute to health policy and planning in our own and other societies.


  • The social and evolutionary aspects of the anthropology of health.
  • Topics may change from year to year, but indicative content is likely to include the following:
  • Health, disease, illness and sickness
  • Health systems and the sectors of healthcare
  • Evolutionary, ecological and social approaches to individual and population health

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of the main concepts, approaches and methods used by anthropologists in the study of health and ill-health.
  • Understand the scope of medical anthropology and evolutionary medicine and their relationships to both social anthropology and biological anthropology as wholes.
  • Insight into one or more non-western health world-views.
  • Familiarity with some of the biological, ecological and socio-cultural aspects of health and ill-health across and within societies and individuals.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Read and understand some key texts that address practical and theoretical issues relating to health.
  • Prepare short written assignments on health-related topics.
  • Develop cross-cultural empathy and understanding in relation to notions of health and illness in different societies.
Key Skills:
  • Ability to evaluate and synthesize information from a variety of sources (e.g. written, oral and internet)
  • An ability to construct reasoned arguments
  • Ability to frame research issues and problems

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

  • Lectures will be delivered live by module tutors and may include some ‘flipped classroom’ type activities.
  • All of these are aimed at developing students’ knowledge and understanding of key issues in the Anthropology of Health at an introductory level.
  • Seminars enable further discussion and clarification of materials as well as opportunities to undertake, discuss and reflect on formative and summative assessments.
  • Summative assessment will consist of two 1500 word essays. These are intended to enable students to demonstrate their learning and progression against materials presented in the course.
  • The module Blackboard Learn Ultra site serves to ensure that students can find the information about the module they require at any time. .

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminars 8 Four per term 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project relating to materials covered in Michaelmas Term 1500 words 50% Yes
Project relating to materials covered in Epiphany Term 1500 words 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

A diverse range of learning activities designed to enhance the education experience of the module and the students’ engagement with the subject matter. Examples include practice essay or blog writing tasks, short online quizzes, Powerpoint slides or presentations summarizing readings; contributing to discussion boards.

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