Medical Anthropology

The human experience of illness, health, and well-being is profoundly influenced by political, economic, and ecological systems. Medical anthropologists study traditional healing practices as well as experimental scientific enterprises that are transforming the human condition. In this course you will learn critical tools for understanding embodied experiences of illness. We will also consider how social inequality is reflected in environments and infrastructures that shape different medical outcomes.

There are two master’s courses in Medical Anthropology at Oxford: the one-year MSc and the two-year MPhil. These share a common period of nine months’ course work in the first year. Both courses will provide students with a solid background in conceptual and methodological issues related to medical anthropology. Both courses are open to university graduates in any field who can demonstrate motivation and purpose for incorporating medical anthropology into their longer-term career goals. 

MSc in Medical Anthropology

This is the course structure for 2023/2024 academic year and is subject to change.

The MSc in Medical Anthropology is a conversion course, which provides extensive teaching that combines approaches from social anthropology and science studies to understand heath and healing in diverse cultures and ecological communities. It consists of four Papers and a 10,000 word dissertation (submitted in late August).

The three core Papers are taught in fall (Michaelmas Term) and winter (Hilary Term):

Paper 1: Critical Medical Anthropology

Paper 2: Biocultural Approaches to Medicine

Paper 3: Anthropologies of the Body


MSc students may also attend lectures in:

  • Theory and Approaches in Social Anthropology
  • Fieldwork: theory and methods

Students can select any of the available option courses in Hilary Term. 

MSc students must be in residence in Oxford during full term, the dates for which are listed on the University's main website.




MPhil in Medical Anthropology

The two-year MPhil course offers a coordinated training in anthropological approaches to health and illness, with a special emphasis on methods. It provides the necessary basis for future anthropological research and an excellent cross-cultural grounding for those aiming to pursue a career in clinical medicine, international health, or other health-related fields. The MPhil is similar in topical scope and breadth to the MSc, but it allows for much deeper engagement with the theory and practice of anthropological research.

During the first year MPhil students follow the same course of instruction as MSc students through the June examinations. These serve as qualifying (rather than final) exams for MPhil students which, if passed at satisfactory level, enable them to progress to the second year.

The MPhil is a research-preparation degree, with the 30,000 word dissertation (submitted in May of the second year) as the main course output. MPhil students receive individual tuition on their dissertation writing with their supervisor throughout the second year. They are also required to attend MPhil classes in Hilary Term, during which MPhil dissertation projects from across the School of Anthropology are presented and discussed among students and faculty. 


Current Students and Alumnae

Medical Anthropology DPhil Research