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Unit information: Introduction to the Medical Humanities in 2018/19

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Unit name Introduction to the Medical Humanities
Unit code HUMS20004
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Vaccarella
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Humanities
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit aims to introduce students from different disciplinary backgrounds to the medical humanities. We will analyse cultural representations of health-related matters, as well as cultural aspects of healthcare provision, with the help of a variety of primary and secondary sources (e.g. novels, poems, graphic memoirs, paintings, films, and documentaries). We will survey how the humanities can contribute to a better understanding of critical issues in medical practice. At the same time, students will be encouraged to connect these debates to the critical questions they address in their degrees.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate:

(1) detailed knowledge of key concepts and current debates in the medical humanities;

(2) critical awareness of cultural factors in health matters;

(3) knowledge of humanistic approaches across disciplines;

(4) the ability to compare different sources;

(5) skills in critical thinking, research, and written presentation appropriate to level I.

Teaching details

1 x 2 hour seminar per week

Assessment Details

1) One formative presentation

2) A summative learning journal of 2000 words on a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) group activity (40%)

3) One summative essay of 3000 words (60%).

All assignments will assess ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

McEwan, Ian. Saturday (2005) [any edition].

Sophocles. Philoctetes [any edition].

Foucault, Michel. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. London: Routledge (2003).

Frank, W. Arthur. The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics. London: University of Chicago Press (1997).

Hawkins, Anne Hunsaker. Reconstructing Illness: Studies in Pathography. West Lafayette, Ind: Purdue University Press (1993).

Rousseau, G. S., Miranda Gill, David and Malte Herwig, eds. Framing and Imagining Disease in Cultural History. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (2003).