Health, Illness and Medicine - SOCI5090

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


'Health', 'illness' and 'medicine' are by no means static concepts. Their meaning has changed over time, and there is competition and conflict over what they mean. For example, in recent decades, health has come to mean much more the absence of disease. This is the age of healthy eating, sexual health, holistic health, healthy lifestyles and healthy living. We live in a time when medicine can mean homeopathy or acupuncture, as well as heart surgery and vaccinations. 'Health' is also something we seem to worry about, and panic over; recent years have witnessed high profile scares about eating beef, using the contraceptive pill and mobile phones, and giving babies the MMR vaccine. 'Health, Illness and Medicine' discusses key ideas and concepts developed by social scientists that can help us understand these, and other, aspects of our society.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 44
Private study hours: 256
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Coursework - Essay 1 (2500 words) - 35%
Coursework - Essay 2 (2500 words) - 35%
Examination, 2 hours - 30%

Reassessment methods
100% coursework

Indicative reading

Barry, A and Yuill, C (2011) Understanding the Sociology of Health (2nd ed)
Gabe, J and Calnan, M (eds) (2009) The New Sociology of the Health Service
Gabe, J and Monaghan, L (2013) Key Concepts in Medical Sociology (2nd ed.), Los Angeles, Sage
Lupton, D (2000) The Imperative of Health: Public Health and the Regulated Body, London, Sage
Nettleton, S (2013) The Sociology of Health and Illness, Cambridge, Polity, (3rd ed.)
Wainwright, D (ed) (2008) A Sociology of Health London, Sage (core text)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes are as follows.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1.describe and critically analyse the ways in which concepts of health, illness and medicine are constructed and contested;
2.demonstrate detailed knowledge of key sociology theories concerning health, illness and medicine;
3.demonstrate detailed familiarity with current debates about the development of medicine and the medical profession;
4.engage with contemporary debates concerning health and illness, about 'health panics', the politics of behaviour modification, and new forms of illness;
5.demonstrate a high capacity in the application of social science theory and research evidence to understandings of health, illness and medicine.

The intended generic learning outcomes are as follows. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1.organise information in a clear and coherent manner.
2.demonstrate critical thinking, analysis and synthesis


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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