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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City and Online (Blended)

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Course details

The MA in Medical Humanities is an exciting and challenging course that applies the knowledge and insight of the humanities and social sciences to study and understand better what is meant by health and illness outside of a medical context and, in particular, to analyse how our thoughts and physical experiences become recognised as symptoms. 

The MA is suitable if you have an undergraduate qualification in an area such as Anthropology; English; Geography; Law; Modern Languages and Cultures; Philosophy; Sociology; and related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. You may also benefit if you have a background in health and social care and are looking to bring humanities and social sciences perspectives to bear in your professional practice.

Learning from leading scholars in the subject, you will be joining an interdisciplinary MA led by the University’s Institute for Medical Humanities and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. The course blends face-to-face study with online learning to provide a fascinating and comprehensive introduction to the wide range of approaches to health taken by different academic disciplines.

Core modules include Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities and Reimagining Health Research: Methodologies in the Critical Medical Humanities while optional modules explore key philosophical issues in science and medicine and ethics, medicine and history. There is also a Critical Medical Humanities dissertation to complete.

Teaching will be through tutorial and seminars and scaffolded assignments where work is broken down into small units with a defined subject focus. We also offer the option of studying the course online as a distance learner.

As a student on this course, you will become a member of the Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers (PGECR) network in Medical Humanities, where you will benefit from regular seminars, conferences and social events.

Course structure

All the MA programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities consist of three components: 

  • a Major Research Project to the value of at least 60 credits 
  • Core Modules to the value of 0-90 credits, depending on the programme
  • Elective Modules, making up the total number of credits to 180; some of these modules will be defined as Recommended Electives for particular programmes.

For students studying the MA in Medical Humanities, the Interdisciplinary Dissertation (your Major Research Project, 60 credits)) gives you the opportunity to conduct an independent research project in a specialist area, applying the techniques developed in the core research methods modules, outlined below.  

You will also be required to take the following two 30-credit core modules:  

Concepts and Frameworks in the Critical Medical Humanities (online) provides advanced training in the interdisciplinary field of critical medical humanities and strengthens your understanding of both its development from the less complex context of initial medical humanities study and its distinct contribution to health research and current challenges. This module will also build your knowledge of concepts, theories and approaches essential to research in the critical medical humanities. 

Reimagining Health Research: Methodologies in the Critical Medical Humanities (online) equips you with the advanced knowledge and skills to be able to critically appraise key health research methodologies used in the critical medical humanities. The module will enhance your ability to assess ideas and evidence from a variety of sources and then choose, justify, or critique work done across key disciplines. It will also encourage you to be reflective and review your own existing competences as well as nurture your ability to work across disciplines.    Finally, you will choose 60 credits of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities or beyond, so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of your programme, some modules will be specifically recommended to you by your Programme Director.  


Learning is a mix of face-to-face teaching combined with online modules, and consists of two core modules and two optional modules. It is delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars and scaffolded assignments – the latter format being where large-scale topics are broken down into smaller units and which are held online with subject experts and discussed and collaboratively with peers. You will carry out group and individual presentations.

You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation for which you will receive one-to-one guidance from a dissertation tutor to support you through the planning and writing process.

Assessment is challenging and comes in a variety of formats for this course. You will be expected to produce essays, annotated bibliography entries and Student Devised Assessments (SDA) when you will deliver your study findings using creative and context-appropriate methods.

You will take part in group presentations and write peer reviews of presentations as well as deliver your own individual presentation. You will compile learning logs and complete a major 15,000-word dissertation.

Entry requirements

At least one of the following:

  • A 2:1 undergraduate degree
  • Active enrolment on an intercalated UG/PG medical degree programme
  • At least five years work in a professional environment with relevance to health and/or medicine, with at least two years in some form of leadership role
  • Successful completion of the associated PG Certificate programme

A 500-word personal statement which should include the following:

  • An outline of your interest in an interdisciplinary MA in Medical Humanities
  • What skills and knowledge you would bring to the course
  • What skills and knowledge you would hope to acquire
  • An indication of your planned area of research

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,700 per year
EU students £24,700 per year
Island students £11,700 per year
International students £24,700 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,500 per year
EU students £13,600 per year
Island students £6,500 per year
International students £13,600 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

Faculty of Arts and Humanities

There is an array of career options possible that include professions in national, international and local government agencies, sustainability management, policy research, corporate responsibility and sustainability, environmental journalism and writing, environmental tourism, environmentally-oriented NGOs and charities and conservation work. The MA in Environmental Humanities also offers enhanced suitability for business graduate programmes in sustainability.

Employers often value Masters graduates in arts and humanities for their understanding and ability to communicate, flexibility, as well as their analytical and synthetic competence.

Department information

Faculty of Arts and Humanities

This programme is led from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, bringing in modules from that Faculty but also building on modules from other Faculties that will serve the wider suite of programmes. We are proud that our Faculty of Arts & Humanities is recognised as a world leading Faculty, and our work is intended to enrich, shape and transform lives. We nurture thoughtful, critical and engaged citizens for a rapidly changing and complex world.

For more information on our Faculty and the Departments within it, see our webpages: Faculty of Arts and Humanities - Durham University


Arts & Humanities subjects ranked 33rd in the World top 50 in the Times Higher Education Rankings by Subject 2023

  • English Department – 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024 and 3rd in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • History Department – 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Philosophy Department – 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Geography Department – 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • Anthropology Department – 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

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