Health, Medicine and Society - SO813

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
(version 3)
Autumn 7 20 (10) PROF M Calnan checkmark-circle


The module is organised around the general theme of a discussion of current debates in the sociology of health, illness and medicine drawing on both theoretical and empirical research. More specific themes will include: the social construction of health and the changing boundaries between health and illness; medicalisation and the discovering of new mental and physical illnesses ; narratives of illness and identity in the context of chronic illness and disability assessing the value of concepts such as ‘biographical disruption’: the changing structure, nature and regulation of medicine and the explanatory power of the new sociology of professionalism.; the political sociology of medicine which explores the relationship between the state and organised interests such as the pharmaceutical industry; changing approaches of the public /patients to maintaining health and managing illness in the context of a culture of consumption where health and lifestyle might be seen as commodities and maintaining a healthy body keeps control over an uncertain and changing world ; trust, risk and mental health ; consideration of the growth in the use of non orthodox health care and the development of medical pluralism and a discussion of the relationship between structure and agency in the context of social inequalities in health.


Contact hours

22 hours contact time (11 one hour lecture and seminar per week).



Method of assessment

The essay is 5,000 words and worth 100% of the overall module mark.

Indicative reading

Reading and Overview

Key Bibliographical Resources. There is no single ‘course text’ for this module, but understanding is built up by drawing on a range of resources, including both key book chapters and journal articles. Students are also encouraged to use the internet for further sources – although always with caution and discrimination . Books and book chapters are available via Moodle and from the Templeman library (note that the copyright agreement only allows one chapter from a book to be put on Moodle which limits what can be made available through this route). No material from books which are available electronically via the library catalogue may be put on Moodle. Journal articles are almost all available on-line via the library website. (Note further reading is indicated for each session:*recommended)

Textbooks for module
**highly recommended; *recommended

Albrecht GL, Fitzpatrick R and Scrimshaw S (eds) (2000) The handbook of Social Studies in Health and Medicine, Sage

*Annandale, E (1998) The Sociology of Health and Medicine, Polity

Blaxter * Blaxter M ( 2010) Health: Key Concepts, Polity

Bury M and Gabe J (eds ) (2004) The Sociology of Health and Illness : A Reader Routledge

Cockerham W (ed) (2010) The New Blackwell Companion to Medical Sociology , Wiley- Blackwell
**Gabe J and Calnan M (2009) Th New Sociology of the Health Service Routledge

** Gabe J a ** Gabe J and Monaghan L (2013) Key concepts in Medical Sociology, Sage.

**Nettleto ** Nettleton S (2013)The Sociology of Health and Illness, Polity

Turner B.S (2004) The ‘New’ Medical Sociology. New York : WW ; Norton and Co .

* White K (2009) An Introduction to the Sociology of the Health and Illness, Sage 2nd edition
Williams S , Gabe J and Calnan (2000) Health, Medicine and Society. Key Theories, Future Agendas Routledge

These journals are all available on-line through the University library, and contain many useful and relevant articles:

Body and Society; Sociology of Health and Illness;
Social Science and Medicine;
Social History of Medicine;
Medical Anthropology;
Medical Anthropology Quarterly;
Journal of Health and Social Behaviour;
International Journal of the Health Services;
See also the British Medical Journal (http//

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended learning outcomes will be achieved as result of a combination of independent study, lecture and seminar .The reading and lectures will develop knowledge of the area while the seminars and independent study will serve to develop understanding of the concepts as applied to sociological analysis

Students will acquire generic skills such as critically assessing evidence and arguments; formulation of problems; proposing possible solutions; supporting arguments with evidence, and recognising the influence of theoretical concepts and perspectives on the questions asked, evidence sought and solutions proposed. Students will also gain an understanding of the subject area of the specific problems considered.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.