Medical Anthropology, Introductory Course

Course content

Medical anthropology is the study of health, illness, and healing across the range of human societies and over the course of human experience. It includes the ways that human communities understand and respond to the challenges of health and illness, it studies the meaning of signs of illness and suffering as part of the general study of culture, and it strives to interpret them in the light of wider understandings of resources, technology, ritual and religion. This introductory course covers some of the most familiar and important themes in medical anthropology. The literature focuses on classic texts dealing with issues such as classification of illness, uncertainties, bodies, subjectivities, identities, narratives, medicines, symbolic healing, patients and therapeutic journeys. The aim of the course is to introduce the field of medical anthropology as part of the overall study of culture and society.


Board of Studies, Department of Anthropology

Learning outcome

By the end of the course the students should be able to display:

  • Identify central anthropological approaches to studying health, illness and healing in human societies
  • Recognize how cultural values, social situations and relations that shape understandings of and responses to the challenges of health and illness
  • Discern and summarize key anthropological arguments and concepts in course readings
  • Explain cross cultural differences in health, illness and healing
  • Present ethnographic case material using anthropological concepts
  • Empirical knowledge of illness experience, health practices, health technologies and health systems in cross-cultural settings

The course consists of lectures, seminars and exercises based on in depth reading of ethnographic texts on health, illness and healing across a range of human societies. Students are expected to engage actively in oral presentations, discussions, group work and exercises.

BSc-, Credit-, and international students: 500 pages obligatory literature.


7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Length: The portfolio exam can be taken individually or in groups of maximum four students. The portfolio exam consists of 3-7 submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must not exceed 30,000 keystrokes for a single student. For groups of two students the maximum is 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students the maximum is 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students the maximum is 50,000 keystrokes.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See description of learning outcome. Formalities for Written Works must be fulfilled, read more: MSc Students/ BA students (in Danish)/ exchange and credit students

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam Preparation
  • 16
  • Practical exercises
  • 25
  • Seminar
  • 42
  • Study Groups
  • 28
  • Course Preparation
  • 95
  • English
  • 206