MA Medicine in Society

Credit: Bill McConkey, Wellcome Image Collection ( is a core value of modern societies. National health service are a key political and economic concern of all governments, funding biomedical research is a major part of all research and innovation strategy, and people spend ever greater amounts of time, money and energy in pursuing good health. Medical science and practice occur in settings that are deeply social, economic and cultural too, with important legal and organisational constraints. At the same time, medical challenges that we are faced with today, such as ageing, obesity, microbial resistance, cardio-pulmonary disorders, mental health issues, and many others, are multi-faceted complex challenges.

The approach to medicine and healthcare in the future has to increase its capacity to deal with their complexity. Students graduating from the Medicine in Society MA will be uniquely qualified in their capacity to deal with complex issues from multiple perspectives, and to combine perspectives in interdisciplinary research. The MA offers courses in history, philosophy, sociology, politics and ethics of medicine. It is unique in providing targeted interdisciplinary skills training in the core module: both in learning what interdisciplinarity is and how to do it effectively. These are skills that students will be able to take with them wherever next they choose to go.

The MA develops students’ abilities to contextualise medical challenges, and to understand and analyse the complexity of medicine and health from different perspectives. It aims therefore to enable students to be better practitioners and analysts of medicine and healthcare – in whatever capacity, as researchers, doctors, or in policy, governance, communication or public engagement and education around medicine.

In this MA students will have the opportunity to draw on medical science, alongside narrative medicine, medical sociology and anthropology, and medical science and technology studies; to think about global health and public health issues, and to contextualise the important ethical issues that are always associated with medicine. Teaching in the core course also encourages students to engage with literature, image, film, art and performance.

Students will acquire the highly transferable skills of looking at problems from different perspectives, in analysing and combining different opinions and viewpoints, and in communicating complex issues, which are useful for medicine and healthcare, and almost all areas of modern life.

Image Credit: Bill McConkey, Wellcome Image Collection

Unique features of the course
  • An interdisciplinary core module with examples of multi-perspectival analysis of topical medical issues team-taught by specialists in their field and ample opportunities for student-led interdisciplinary teams.
  • Optional courses in philosophy, sociology, history, politics and ethics as these relate to medicine and health care.
  • Creative problem based learning approaches to develop skills for interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral research and practice.
  • Individual tutoring to identify research projects with the right balance of interdisciplinarity depending on students’ interests and career paths.
  • Access to the Medical Humanities Sheffield network of multi-disciplinary researchers and practitioners across the University, Teaching Hospitals, Children’s Hospital and Primary Care.
  • Enable students to analyse complex phenomena in the medical and healthcare domain;
  • Develop students’ skills in combining research methodologies from different disciplines to tackle a problem from multiple perspectives;
  • Encourage students to explore practical, ethical and responsible practice in medicine and healthcare;
  • Work with students to develop their interests into research projects capable of harnessing the potential for impact of interdisciplinary research.
Teaching Methods

In the core module, a range of medical topics or challenges will be tackled in a case study approach, combining different perspectives brought in by faculty from different departments and disciplines. There is a combination of group learning and individual work. Students will engage with scholarly texts, as well as with other media as these are relevant to specific issues, such as art, film, photography, music, social media, etc. They will also be encouraged to use different media in researching and communicating topics, in group presentations; while critical reading and writing skills are developed through individual essays.

Most of the optional modules use a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials.

Students will begin to prepare for their dissertation from the outset; they will have the opportunity to discuss their topic with supervisors in individual tutorials, with a view to how their career progression. Dissertations develop students’ ability to develop and communicate research ideas in a sustained and coherent way.

Course Modules

Compulsory Modules

CDL604 Medicine in Society: Interdisciplinary Research Skills Autumn 30 credits
CDL605 Medicine in Society Dissertation Summer 60 credits


DEN610 Health and Social Justice Spring 15 credits
HAR6016 Sociology of Health and Illness Spring 15 credits
HST6049 Policing the Family: Welfare, Eugenics and Love in Early 20th Century Britain Spring 15 credits
HST6073 Medical Humanity? Medicine and Identity Autumn 15 credits
LAW6167 Contemporary Challenges in Global Health Law Autumn 15 credits
PHI 6175 Philosophy of Medicine 1: Knowledge and practice Autumn 15 credits
PHI 6275 Philosophy of Medicine 2: Medicine, Ethics & Society Spring 15 credits
PHI6660 Philosophy of Psychology Autumn 30 credits
SCS6084 Digital Health Spring 15 credits
POL6604 Global Health and Global Politics (from 2020) Spring 30 credits

Programme Length:

One year for MA full time, two years for MA part time. One year for PG Diploma and PG Certificate.

How to Apply

To apply for this course, please follow the instrunctions on the following webpage:

Fees for this course can be viewed here:

UK/EU students - For more information go to the prospective postgraduates webpage.

Entry Requirements

Normally 2.1 or higher in a Bachelors Honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject area. This may include philosophy, history, sociology, politics, law, human geography, or other subjects in the humanities, such as visual studies, or languages and cultures.

Students with a background in other subject areas, such as biomedical engineering, or health in connection with urban planning, or many other subject areas that are related to health and medicine may also be eligible. Students with a non-traditional educational background, and mature students wishing to return to academic study are also welcome to apply and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis: for example, we may ask for a writing sample.

Intercalating Medical Students
Intercalating medical students will need to meet the general requirements for intercalation.

Disabled Applicants
The University welcomes applications from disabled applicants. Please refer to the Disabled Applicant webpage.

Career Opportunities

The MA is a springboard into careers in the Civil Service, Medical and Health related Think Tanks, Publishing, Media and Communications, Museums, Medical and Health related Management and the broad cultural sector.

For medical students / researcher intercalating into the MA: this MA is complementary to medical studies and aims to broaden and deepen the understanding of medical research and practice, and to open out other opportunities along the whole trajectory of a medical career.

For all students: the MA will equip you to pursue an academic research career in one of the disciplines of the MA or the broad interdisciplinary area of Medical Humanities/Social Sciences. Students wishing to follow this route will be advised on how to focus their studies.

The MA programme works closely with the University Careers Service which provides high quality information, advice and guidance on all aspects of career devopment including; making individual career choices and researching career options, as well as finding jobs, study and networking opportunities, and making successful applications.

Course contact

Course Director: Dr Annamaria Carusi
Admin Lead: Mrs Vicky Cottam