MA Medical and Health Humanities
- Full Time
- Degree of Master of Arts
- Course Length
- 1 years
- Course Start Date
- September 2023
How have ideas of health and illness evolved in different historical and cultural locations? How do encounters between patients and clinicians create narratives of illness and health, and how do depictions of illness, pain and disability in literature, media and culture influence these narratives? Can we find meaning in suffering?
Whether you’re a clinician planning a memoir, an intercalating medical student wanting to understand why histories of embodied experience matter in your practice, a humanities or social sciences graduate interested in health, illness and disability, or a professional interested in social prescribing and place-based healthcare, this versatile interdisciplinary course is for you.
You’ll learn about narrative medicine and the importance of story. You'll analyse contemporary and historical representations of disability and illness, and consider the power of writing as a way of understanding experiences connected to health. Additionally, you’ll examine the role of the arts in health and wellbeing, learning about cutting edge research and practice within the applied arts and health sectors.
Our Masters in Medical and Health Humanities explores health as a holistic and culturally embedded experience. It will challenge you to think critically and philosophically about what it means to be a doctor, nurse or allied health professional, and what it means to be a patient. We will explore how ‘health’, ‘illness’ and ‘disability’ are understood, and how concepts such as ‘quality of life’, ‘pathology’ or ‘impairment’ are constructed and take shape within cultures. The programme has at its core an understanding that lived experiences of illness and disability are affected by gender, ethnicity, sexuality and class (among other intersecting identities), as well as being situated within particular geographical and historical locations. Through studying aspects of literature, media, art, philosophy and history, and their intersections with health, you will be introduced to key debates within critical medical humanities.
The programme offers exciting opportunities for creative and practice-based learning, drawing inspiration from UEA’s unique strengths in these areas, including in partnership with the world-famous Sainsbury Centre. You can choose to develop your own life-writing, fiction or artwork on health-related themes. You’ll engage with cutting-edge content, for example graphic medicine, which pushes the boundaries of current understandings around narrative medicine.
Additionally, this course will build your knowledge of inclusive health policy and practice, as well as of the burgeoning arts and health sector. You’ll learn about contemporary policy developments such as social prescribing and place-based healthcare, as well as accumulating skills and knowledge for working in the cultural or health sectors - including in role areas that link them.
You’ll be introduced to techniques for scholarship and research used in the humanities, as well as to key methods and practices from the social and health sciences. You’ll have the opportunity to hone your knowledge and skills by undertaking a final research project in the field of medical and health humanities or producing an extended creative piece with a critical commentary.
Alongside examining the intersection of the health and cultural sectors, including the new NHS Integrated Care Systems and the policy context of social prescribing, the versatility of this course means that one week you’ll be delving into global histories of medicine and the legacies of colonialism in public health, the next you’ll be critically considering representations of disabled bodies in contemporary culture, and if your interests lie in creative practice there are ample opportunities to pursue these too.
Study and Modules
You can take the MA Medical and Health Humanities as either a one-year full-time course, or as a part-time course over two years.
Your learning is anchored in the comprehensive pair of core modules, Introduction to Medical and Health Humanities: Histories, Theories, Methods I and II. These modules provide you with a grounding in key debates and issues in the field, equipping you with the skills to think critically about what the Medical and Health Humanities mean to different people, and how they have been used by diverse groups, from clinicians to healthcare educators, humanities scholars and creative practitioners. You will also learn a range of research methods and practices of enquiry to apply to your own investigations in the field. You will study the core modules across Semester 1 and 2.
In Semester 1 you will also study the following bespoke modules:
Narratives of Healthcare, Illness and Disability. With input from practicing life-writers and academics working in the critical medical humanities, you will explore what it means to conceptualise health as a ‘narrated’ experience. You will have seminars led by academics, clinicians and writers on a range of topics including the wounded healer and radical empathy in forensic psychiatry, as well as considering how concepts such as ‘mental illness’ and ‘child development’ shape how we think about personhood, disability and wellbeing.
Applied Arts and Health. In this module, you will learn about the role of the creative arts in health and wellbeing. Sessions will be delivered by a range of specialist practitioners, for example, leaders of local Non-Governmental Organisations and arts organisations, policymakers, curators, social prescribers, and artists.
In Semester 2, you choose two optional modules to tailor the course to your own interests and goals. These modules offer opportunities for you to deepen your knowledge of a variety of topics relating to the medical humanities, for example: historical and contemporary ideas about embodiment; histories and theories of gender and sexuality; histories of race and resistance; and advancing practice in dementia care; among other themes.
In the summer, you undertake your Dissertation: this is your chance to investigate an area of interest more deeply, under expert supervision in your subfield. You may choose to pursue a research project drawing from the humanities fields such as a literary, cultural, media, historical or art historical study, or you may use methods from the health and social sciences to complete an applied project. You also have the option of producing an extended creative piece with a linked critical commentary.
Optional A Modules(Credits: 40)
Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, the University will endeavour to consult with students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will inform students.
Teaching and Learning
You will be taught by a team of academics, clinicians and writers, all experts in their fields, who bring diverse disciplinary perspectives to the study of medicine, health and the humanities. Between them, they have strengths in critical disability studies, creative writing, including medical memoir, cultural and screen representations of embodiment, histories and cultures of medicine and of mental health, and methodology and knowledge production in medicine and the medical and health humanities. UEA also operates a Medical and Health Humanities network, bringing together researchers and practitioners with many different interests, and an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to teaching and research lies at the heart of our provision.
You’ll mainly be taught through a blend of lectures, interactive seminars and workshops. Typically, each module will comprise around 3 hours per week of teaching events, with some modules deviating from this structure. The course teaching will incorporate some online elements as well as on-campus learning.
Working independently is an important aspect of study at MA level. You’ll do preparatory reading for teaching events as well as working towards your coursework. UEA has excellent facilities to support your independent study, from comprehensive library materials (including electronic resources and databases), to academic skills support from the Learning Enhancement Team and Royal Literary Fellows, and inspirational repositories of visual arts and archival material are on your doorstep in the form of the Sainsbury Centre and the UEA Archives. Additionally, postgraduate students have the opportunity to attend many exciting programmes of lectures and events run by different departments and groups across the university, allowing you to take full advantage of the vibrant learning environment surrounding your course.
Your achievement on the MA course will be assessed via coursework, through methods including essays, reports, and your final dissertation. If your interest in Medical and Health Humanities lies in the potential to develop your skills in creative expression, you will have opportunities to submit creative or practice-based pieces (such as a film, short story, or poetry collection) for assignments within certain modules. You will usually be required to submit a linked critical commentary with your creative work.
For your dissertation, you may choose to undertake a research project drawing from the humanities fields such as a literary, cultural, media, historical or art historical study, or you may use methods from the health and social sciences to undertake an applied project. You also have the option of producing an extended creative piece with a linked critical commentary.
- Degree Classification
- Bachelors degree - 2.2 or equivalent
- Degree Subject
- Humanities, Social Sciences, Medicine or Professional Health related subject areas
- English Foreign Language
We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:
IELTS: 6.0 (minimum 5.5 in two components only, with 6.0 in the other two)
PTE (Pearson): 64 (minimum 59 in only two components with 64 in the others)
Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.
Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests
INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This course is open to UK, EU and International applicants. This course's annual intake is in September of each year.
Fees and Funding
Tuition fees for the Academic Year 2023/24 are:
UK Students: £9,500 (full time)
International Students: £19,800 (full time)
If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for Home students).
We estimate living expenses at £1,023 per month.
Further Information on tuition fees can be found here.
Course Related Costs
How to Apply
Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.
To apply please use our online application form.
If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:
Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.
After the Course
By the end of your MA, you will understand more deeply key debates in the medical and health humanities. You will have developed analytical as well as practical skills, for example advanced listening skills and a deeper understanding of narrative, including your own. You will have developed skills in research methods that could lead you onto a PhD, into the policy sector, or into research and evaluation roles in the arts and health field. You will have built a portfolio of work that could lead to a career as a writer or elsewhere in the creative industries. Existing healthcare practitioners will have enhanced their skillset and be ready to apply this to current practice or new roles.
If you’re looking to progress to a PhD, you’ll be well prepared for sustained research in a variety of fields relating to the medical and health humanities, from arts and health evaluation, to literary and cultural studies, and sociological research exploring health experiences.
A degree at UEA will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. We've been ranked 1st for Job Prospects by StudentCrowd in 2022.
Examples of careers that you could enter include:
- Policy and research roles
- Public sector roles, e.g. social prescribing link worker
- Consultancy roles
- Third sector and NGO roles, including in arts and health
- Careers in writing or other creative industries
- Academic research (PhD)