Medical Humanities - MA

Postgraduate Open Events

Come and meet us at our Postgraduate Open Event on Wednesday 22 February 2023.

Medicine is one of the great human activities. The changes that medicine has undergone, and the problems and opportunities it raises, should be of interest to everyone.


In this MA you are introduced to many questions asked about medicine from within the humanities. You have the opportunity to examine the history of Western medicine and to consider how medical practice is presented in, and shaped by, literature and the arts. You have the chance to reflect on what is involved in classifying something as a disease or an abnormal mental state, and to explore various ethical and legal problems that arise within medicine. You will also learn about the history of the medical humanities as a field and the debates that have surrounded its identity and role.

"I absolutely loved the inspiration and passion that grew out of the seminar groups and the stimulating conversations and debates and discussions that took place across age groups, genders and cultures. It was a hugely rich learning experience."

- Emma Isworth, MA Medical Humanities graduate

The programme is aimed primarily at people with a humanities background, but we also welcome healthcare practitioners or those with medical backgrounds who are interested in the growing field of the medical humanities.

As an interdisciplinary programme, the MA is taught by scholars from many different disciplines across the University, including English, Arts, History and Law and the Departments of Philosophy, Classical & Archaeological Studies, Cultures and Languages and Religious Studies. You take four modules across the autumn and spring terms, including one core module and from a variety of optional modules, before undertaking a supervised 15,000-word dissertation over the summer.

As a postgraduate student you’ll join the vibrant academic community in the School of English. You’ll benefit from a lively, confident, and engaged research culture, sustained by a creative, cutting-edge intellectual community. 

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

You take two modules in the autumn term and two in the spring term. You are also expected to attend the School's Research Methods Programmes.

You then write the dissertation between the start of the Summer Term and the end of August.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include:

Optional modules may include:


Teaching and assessment

Assessments vary across the modules. Typically the main assessment is a 5,000 word essay and a dissertation of 12,000 words.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • introduce you to a variety of ways in which medical science and practice can be examined within the humanities and social sciences, and to a range of questions and issues that it raises.  In doing so, part of the richness of medical science will be revealed, as well as its problems. The relevant disciplines include history, literature, philosophy and law
  • place the study of various materials (such as texts, images, data, legal judgments, etc) at the centre of student learning and analysis
  • expose you to a variety of methods, writing styles, researching styles, concepts (etc) that are used across a range of academic disciplines in relation to specific topics and questions in medical science and practice
  • expose you to some of the various possibilities and problems that medical science and practice has raised and continues to raise
  • develop your capacities to think critically about past and present events and experiences in relation to medicine
  • encourage you to relate the academic study of medical science and practice to questions of public debate and concern
  • promote a curriculum supported by scholarship, staff development and a research culture that promotes breadth and depth of intellectual enquiry and debate from different Humanities and related disciplines
  • assist you to develop cognitive and transferable skills relevant to their vocational and personal development.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • various medical roles, such as the doctor, the nurse, the patient, the medical scientist, the (medical test) subject, and how these are seen in connection with insights derived from one or more of the various Humanities disciplines
  • various medical concepts, such as disease, illness, treatment, medical trial, health, and how these are seen in connection with insights derived from one or more of the various Humanities disciplines.
  • various moral and legal problems that medical science has raised, and how various societies, codes and laws have been developed to solve and cope with them
  • the history of medicine in different eras, centred on Western medicine but incorporating other traditions also
  • the way in which presentations of medical practice and practitioners in fiction has altered, and the effects on medical practice itself
  • the ways in which different Humanities and related disciplines approach the study of medicine
  • how different people and groups may be biased, for good or ill, when commenting on and presenting aspects of medical practice, and how this affects our understanding of medicine.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to gather, organise and deploy various data from relevant primary and secondary sources
  • the ability to develop reasoned defensible arguments based on reflection, study and critical judgement
  • the ability to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship, and to evaluate methodologies
  • the ability to propose new arguments and hypotheses
  • the ability to reflect on, and manage, their learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from peers and staff to enhance their performance and personal skills
  • the ability to understand and articulate the similarities and differences between the different disciplines’ approach to medical science and practice.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • an understanding of the social, economic, and cultural history of medicine and relating those to the political and ethical issues of the modern period and their significance within a global perspective
  • a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which philosophers form and argue about problems in relation to medicine
  • a comprehensive understanding of how the law works in relation to medicine and the challenges that the one brings to the other
  • an understanding of fictional and other depictions of medical practice and practitioners
  • evaluate different interpretations, sources and argumentative positions
  • application of methods, concepts and theories used by one or more of the relevant disciplines.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: the ability to organise information clearly, respond to various sources and arguments, present information and arguments orally and in writing, adapt your style for different audiences and disciplines, use images as a communications tool
  • numeracy: the ability to read graphs and tables, integrate numerical and non-numerical information, understand the limits and potentialities of arguments based on quantitative information
  • information technology: produce written documents, undertake online research, communicate using email, process information using databases and spreadsheets where necessary
  • independence of mind and initiative
  • self-discipline and self-motivation
  • the ability to work with others and have respect for others’ reasoned views.


The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

  • Home full-time £9500
  • EU full-time £13500
  • International full-time £18000
  • Home part-time £4750
  • EU part-time £6750
  • International part-time £9000

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our English Language and Literature research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for impact and environment.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 93% of our research was judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Following the REF 2021, English Language and Literature at Kent was ranked in the top 20 in the UK in the Times Higher Education.


Research areas

The School of English has a Medical Humanities Research Cluster that fosters interdisciplinary research and teaching. The main research interests of the School of English staff in this area are in illness narrative, literature and public health, phenomenology of health and illness, creative practice, embodiment and disability, the history of blindness, affect and the body, the study of intelligence in literature and conceptions of death and dying. Find out more about our staff and their publications.


Many career paths can benefit from the writing and analytical skills that you develop as a postgraduate student in the School of English. Our students have gone on to work in academia, journalism, broadcasting and media, publishing, writing and teaching; as well as more general areas such as banking, marketing analysis and project management.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The MA in Medical Humanities is administered by the School of English, drawing on expertise in other Schools and Departments at Kent. This means that students can draw on the excellent resources of a diverse team of teachers with expertise in many key areas.

The Templeman Library is well stocked with excellent research resources, as are Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. There are a number of special collections: the John Crow Collection of Elizabethan and other early printed texts; the Reading/Raynor Collection of theatre history (over 7,000 texts or manuscripts); ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online); the Melville manuscripts relating to popular culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the Pettingell Collection (over 7,500 items) of 19th-century drama; the Eliot Collection; children’s literature; and popular literature. A gift from Mrs Valerie Eliot has increased the Library’s already extensive holdings in modern poetry. The British Library in London is also within easy reach. Kent has extensive facilities to support research, and the Templeman Library has excellent holdings in all of our areas of research interest. Special Collections has recently acquired a unique collection of contemporary artists’ books on wellbeing and medicine.

Besides the Templeman Library, School resources include support for attending and organising conferences, and a dedicated postgraduate study space.

Conferences and seminars

Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops. 

School of English postgraduate students are encouraged to organise and participate in a conference which takes place in the summer term. This provides students with the invaluable experience of presenting their work to their peers.

The School runs several series of seminars, lectures and readings throughout the academic year. Our weekly research seminars are organised collaboratively by staff and graduates in the School. Speakers range from our own postgraduate students, to members of staff, to distinguished lecturers who are at the forefront of contemporary research nationally and internationally.

The Centre for Creative Writing hosts a very popular and successful weekly reading series; guests have included poets Katherine Pierpoint, Tony Lopez, Christopher Reid and George Szirtes, and novelists Abdulrazak Gurnah, Ali Smith, Marina Warner and Will Self.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. They also edit several periodicals including: Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities; The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: 600-1500; The Dickensian; Literature Compass; Oxford Literary Review; Theatre Notebook and Wasafiri.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.

Apply now

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

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