Scientific and technological advances are constantly pushing the bounds of medical possibility. But what role is played by the humanities? How is the practice of medicine represented in art, literature, film and other media, and how do those representations, in turn, determine how we understand and experience our own bodies and the realities of sickness and health? Taught across our School of Arts and our School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, Birkbeck's interdisciplinary MA Medical Humanities: Bodies, Cultures and Ideas explores human health through the lenses of culture and history, covering topics including infectious disease, diet and exercise, mental health and wellbeing, and disability. The course draws together students and staff working across different disciplines, different historical periods and different geographical regions, to offer an interdisciplinary approach to the fascinating, complex relationship between medicine and the humanities. The interdisciplinary option modules are taught collectively by staff from across English, law, modern languages, philosophy, history, psychosocial studies, gender and sexuality, film and media studies and the history of art. You will consider the development of clinical practices and institutions, the formation of medical expertise and authority, and the role of medical ethics and law. You will also learn about the history of the medical humanities as an academic field and the debates that have shaped its identity and role. The course is aimed at arts, humanities and social science graduates, and you will develop your analytical, research and writing skills. Highlights
- The course, run jointly by our departments of English, Theatre and Creative Writing and Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, has been awarded a number of fully funded MA studentships by the Wellcome Trust as part of its commitment to building an influential and diverse population of future researchers in the medical humanities.
- All master’s students are eligible to apply for our prestigious Eric Hobsbawm Scholarships, subject to availability. One of the most influential historians of the twentieth century, Eric Hobsbawm taught at Birkbeck for over five decades and embodied what is central to our teaching and research: a continued commitment to critical enquiry and public engagement.
- Birkbeck is at the heart of academic London with easy access to world-class research resources such as the British Museum and the British Library, and our School of Arts is housed in a building that was once home to Virginia Woolf and frequented by members of the Bloomsbury Group.
- This course grows out of Birkbeck’s Centre for Medical Humanities, an interdisciplinary and cross-College research group that brings together academics and students of all levels to work on issues both critical and clinical. We host visiting speakers, give talks, run a regular reading group, and provide a hub for the College’s diverse research in the field.
- The School of Arts is actively involved in a number of College-wide institutes specifically designed to foster work across disciplines at Birkbeck and beyond: Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality and Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism. These institutes are driven by the work of world-class scholars including Laura Mulvey, Slavoj Žižek, Lynne Segal and David Feldman.
For information about course structure and the modules you will be studying, please visit Birkbeck’s online prospectus.
Close-reading commentaries, essays, research scrapbooks and a 15,000-word dissertation.
How to apply
If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests. If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.
A second-class honours degree (2:2) or above in an arts, humanities or social sciences subject. Applications are reviewed on their individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.
Fees and funding
|Northern Ireland||£9810||Year 1|
Additional fee information
Birkbeck, University of London
Course contact detailsVisit our course page
Birkbeck Student Advice Service
0203 907 0700