ASS206 - Medical Anthropology

Unit details


2023 unit information

Enrolment modes:

Trimester 2: Burwood (Melbourne), Waurn Ponds (Geelong), Online, CBD*

Credit point(s):1
EFTSL value:0.125
Unit Chair:Trimester 2: Will Smith




Incompatible with:


Typical study commitment:

Students will on average spend-150 hours over the teaching period undertaking the teaching, learning and assessment activities for this unit.

Scheduled learning activities - campus:

 1 x 1-hour class per week, 1 x 1-hour seminar per week

Scheduled learning activities - online:

1 x 1-hour class per week (recordings provided), 1 x 1-hour online seminar per week


*CBD refers to the National Indigenous Knowledges, Education, Research and Innovation (NIKERI) Institute; Community Based Delivery


The study of human knowledge systems in the area of health and illness lies at the heart of anthropology as a whole. Medical anthropology is thus pivotal to the discipline and is also a major point of articulation between anthropology and other sciences. In this unit, students will learn key concepts and approaches in medical anthropology through the study of a spectrum of traditions of healing and embodiment, as well as the study of western medicine, or biomedicine, as a distinctive cultural system. Through detailed case studies of different medical phenomena and how humans act in relation to them, students will examine health and healing from a cross-cultural, “biosocial” perspective. Fundamental concepts such as the division between mind and body, the social construction of disease, culture-bound syndromes, and structural violence will be examined. Special emphasis is given to the relationship between health, disease, systems of power, and disparities in wealth and resources.

ULO These are the Learning Outcomes (ULO) for this unit. At the completion of this unit, successful students can: Deakin Graduate Learning Outcomes

Interrogate familiar norms and practices dealing with sickness, well-being, and the body

GLO4: Critical thinking


Articulate a range of cultural traditions of healing and embodiment

GLO1: Discipline-specific knowledge and capabilities


Identify relationships among systems of power, knowledge, and inequality—particularly with regard to access to health and care

GLO4: Critical thinking


Critically analyse complex texts, develop an argument, and communicate it effectively

GLO2: Communication

GLO3: Digital literacy


Assessment Description Student output Grading and weighting
(% total mark for unit)
Indicative due week
Assessment 1 - Seminar/
Online exercises
800 words
or equivalent
20% Ongoing
Assessment 2 - Quizzes 600 words
or equivalent
15% Weeks 5, 8 and 11
Assessment 3 (Group) - Group project 1000 words
or equivalent
25% Week 6
Assessment 4 - Essay 1600 words
or equivalent
40% Week 11

The assessment due weeks provided may change. The Unit Chair will clarify the exact assessment requirements, including the due date, at the start of the teaching period.

Learning Resource

The texts and reading list for the unit can be found on the University Library via the link ASS206
Note: Select the relevant trimester reading list. Please note that a future teaching period's reading list may not be available until a month prior to the start of that teaching period so you may wish to use the relevant trimester's prior year reading list as a guide only.

Unit Fee Information

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