MA Medical Anthropology and Intensive Language

Duration: 2 years full time, 4 years part-time

Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honors degree (or equivalent)

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Who is this programme for?

  • Intercalating medical students, or students intending to pursue a medical degree.
  • Students with a degree in the social sciences or humanities wishing to acquire a broad understanding of medical anthropology with reference to Asia or Africa, but also including other parts of the world
  • People with professional experience in medical practice who have an interest in cross-cultural understandings of health and illness.
  • Students with a degree in social anthropology wishing to pursue more specialist topics in the anthropology of medicine.
  • Students without a previous degree in Anthropology looking for an MA conversion degree to serve as a qualification for pursuing a further research degree in anthropology

The two-year intensive language pathway is directed at students who want to engage with a country in a professional as well as academic way, as the intensive language courses will enable them to reach a near proficient knowledge of the language.

As one might expect of study at SOAS, our programme is unique in that we take a cultural and phenomenological approach to the anthropology of medicine. That is, we stress a truly cross-cultural method, one which unites all medical systems in a unified comparative perspective. This allows students to grasp the underlying principles and questions common to all therapeutic systems. Given the diversity of the School’s courses, students may choose options which strengthen either the humanities or the development studies aspects of their interests.

It can also be taken with an intensive language pathway over two years, therefore making this programme unique in Europe.

The Japanese pathway is available for students who have an intermediate level of Japanese. Students will be required to take a placement exam in the week before classes begin in order to determine if their level is suitable. Please contact Professor Drew Gerstle ( for further information.


  • Core course: Cultural Understandings of Health - 15PANC093 (1.0 unit).
  • Dissertation in Anthropology and Sociology - 15PANC999 (1.0 unit). This is a 10,000-word dissertation on a topic agreed with the Programme Convenor of the MA Medical Anthropology and the candidate’s supervisor.
  • In addition, all MA Anthropology students 'audit' the course Ethnographic Research Methods during term 1 - this will not count towards your 4 units.
  • Students without previous experience of anthropology must take the foundation course, Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology - 15PANC008 (1.0 unit).

Option Courses - Group A and Group B:

Students then choose TWO 0.5 unit courses from the Group A and B lists.

  • AT LEAST ONE of the two 0.5 unit courses normally must come from Group A
  • Students not taking Theoretical Approaches to Social Anthropology may then select their fourth unit (either a single 1.0 unit course or two 0.5 unit courses) from the Option Courses list.
  • Alternatively, one language course may be taken from the Faculty of Languages and Cultures
  • In the two-year language pathway, students take 2 intensive language units and Cultural Understandings of Health (1 unit) in their first year. During the summer, they will participate in a summer school abroad (location dependant on language). Upon their return, they will take one intensive language unit in their second year and two optional anthropology units. In the intensive-language pathway, the same rules apply as for the usual MA.

Year abroad

Yes (summer)

Program taught in:

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Last updated January 23, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
2 - 4 years
9,225 GBP
Full-time UK/EU Fees: £9,225; Full-time Overseas Fees: £18,980 per academic year
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