About the course

This course is open to students already studying medicine, dentistry or veterinary sciences at Bristol or at other universities.

It is a year-long intercalation, usually undertaken after your second or third year (for Bristol students), but it can also be after your fourth year.

For Bristol students, the degree builds on the humanities exposure in the first three years of the curriculum in particular material related to Social and Behaviour Science, Arts and Humanities, Whole Person Care and Effective Consulting helical themes

Course aims

This course aims to develop the student's interest in and knowledge and understanding of the contribution of humanities to the accomplished practice of medicine and medical research. It is grounded in the following three disciplines:

  • English literature;
  • Philosophy;
  • History.

We will show you how the humanities can illuminate the context in which medicine and medical research are practised. You will learn some of the knowledge and skills of literary and philosophical analysis and apply these to a broadened conceptualisation of the suffering individual, their medical care and carers, and the historical and epistemological basis on which that care is delivered.

The course seeks to fulfil the General Medical Council's recommendations for a curriculum that is "intellectually challenging", with time for "reflection and personal growth" leading to an "understanding of the social and cultural environment in which medicine is practiced" and an ability to "critically evaluate evidence".

Our aim is to produce better doctors - emotionally and cognitively intelligent, culturally aware and philosophically enquiring.


In addition to two core units specifically focusing on medical humanities, you will study a general unit in both English and Philosophy. This gives you ample opportunity to learn from and with fellow students in the Faculty of Arts.


For your dissertation you will be required to explore a particular aspect of the medical humanities theme and demonstrate advanced research and writing skills.

More about units

Edit this page