Anthropology of Health


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This course has now been suspended for 2020 entry.

  • Ideal preparation for those who work in a diverse and multicultural healthcare setting or graduates who would like to pursue a PhD.
  • This course will give you the opportunity to carry out a substantial research project on a topic of your choice, including diet and nutrition, psychiatric and psychological anthropology, and ageing and the body.
  • Flexible study for part-time students.
  • Many MRes students publish their work in international journals and contribute to contemporary policy debates.


In this programme you will have a comprehensive introduction to the anthropology of health. Initial modules will allow you to study the diverse ideas and practice in healthcare, and how these impact on individual and community formation. For example, how do new reproductive technologies impact on notions of kinship within a family and community? How do different medical systems within a community relate to each other? How do organ transplants influence concepts of personhood and the self?

You will also study, through a selection of case studies, the idea of health, wellbeing and illness as states within a continuous process, using the idea of a life-cycle as a model. This module will investigate the ways in which people strive to lead healthy and fulfilling lives and respond to episodes of ill-health and unease. It places medical issues in a context of people’s quest for continuity and their struggles to cope with uncertainty.

Other modules on the course will cover topics such as sociocultural/biological/evolutionary concepts of health; mental and environmental health; food/nutrition; leisure and wellbeing; arts health; and disability. You will also explore lifecycles to understand health issues such as: birth to death, reproduction, ageing and the body, in/fertility, new reproductive technologies, life history narrative, childhood, puberty, rites of passage.

You will undertake an extended piece of original research showing a sustained engagement with an issue in the anthropology of health. It is supported by supervision and is the culmination of the MRes Anthropology of Health programme. This dissertation is supported by the preparation of a policy document or paper for publication.

Tailormade for graduates who would like to specialise in the field of health and wellbeing and health care practitioners interested in the anthropological approaches to the field.  This research-intensive programme is driven by contemporary policy debates. It will give you the opportunity to develop, undertake and publish your own original research.

On this course you will look at how different societies and people understand and react to health and illness. The course will cover the range of societies in our world, looking at responses to health from using ritual to cutting edge technologies and organ transplantation. You will also focus on how our evolving healthcare methods impact on how people see themselves, their families and communities.

As well as providing a wide knowledge base, this course will encourage you to develop your expertise in a number of areas in the anthropology of health, honing your critical, interpretative and evaluative skills, and undertaking continuous personal and professional development.

You will be supported by experienced staff whose research has made a significant impact on global society, and receive training in qualitative and quantitative anthropological research methods relevant to undertaking an extended research project. Based on the wide variety of staff expertise, some of the topics you can currently research may include HIV/AIDS care and intervention, pharmaceuticals, wellbeing and arts health, religion and traditional health care systems, human variation and adaptation. The research that you undertake will be of journal quality and published.

Studying the anthropology of health at Roehampton will give you a global perspective on the discipline, and a wide view of possible career paths. In an increasingly globalised world, you will be equipped with the necessary skills to understand and interpret the cultural patterns in diverse health fields and organisations, enabling you to progress to PhD-level study or a career in the complex and cultural field of healthcare.


Compulsory and Required modules
Compulsory and/or required modules may change when we review and update programmes. Above is a list of modules offered this academic year.

Optional modules
Optional modules, when offered as part of a programme, may vary from year to year and are subject to viability.

The programme will prepare you for PhD study in Anthropology (health and related areas), senior healthcare policy and advisory work, advanced healthcare delivery in diverse and multicultural settings, and overseas development work.

Life at Roehampton

At Roehampton, we can offer all new students the opportunity to live in accommodation on our beautiful parkland campus, including affordable and high-end options.

We offer scholarships, provide hardship funding and help you find advice on managing your finances while you study.

We provide plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, through volunteering, playing sport or music, or joining one of our many active student societies.

Chat to one of our advisers online