Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Health, Science and Society

Why choose Health, Science and Society at the University of Edinburgh?

  • The large degree of flexibility in the programme allows you to explore different aspects of health and care in social contexts according to your interests, supported by cutting-edge research and teaching.

  • Teaching staff come from a range of disciplines and bring diverse expertise and experience (including health professional experience) to enrich and support the interdisciplinary nature of the subject matter.

  • You will gain practical and academic skills through your own research project, and have the opportunity to undertake an innovative option course in community engagement, opening up a pathway to new abilities, work experience and community-based learning.

Study abroad

I’m learning about health from various points of view. There are many ways of improving health around the world if we look at it from different perspectives. As someone who wants to work in international development and public health, I find that really useful.

Vali Constantin 3rd year MA (Hons) Health, Science & Society
Vali Constantin 3rd year MA (Hons) Health, Science & Society

We live in a global age of increasing life expectancy but chronic health conditions are rising and infectious disease is showing no signs of disappearing. This programme will help you to understand the social dimensions of health and illness, preparing you to contribute to improving the lives of people on this planet.

Drawing upon a range of disciplinary perspectives, you will address three broad themes: societies and communities; individuals, personhood and experience; and healthcare, social care and professional development. You will explore this important field of human experience across diverse social contexts, applied to real-world settings.

You will examine how social, political and economic organisation contribute to health and illness and to the distribution of these across societies, communities and social groups. You will also look at culture and language and how these influence the ways in which people experience health and illness.

Integral to your learning will be the concept of care and its delivery and the development of critical understandings of the role individuals, communities and policy-makers make to health outcomes.

Year 1

You will explore the social causes of health and illness and their impact on different communities and social groups, drawing upon examples from around the world. This leads on to the study of individual and cultural understandings of health and illness and associated beliefs and behaviours, alongside the related concepts of deviance and stigma. You will also select four courses from a wide range of options.

Year 2

You will study current key health issues of local and global importance, using research materials so that you gain an understanding of how knowledge is produced and used in real-life situations.

You'll also be introduced to the complexity of language use in interaction, and the role of language in communicating about health in society and in healthcare settings, focusing on the production of meanings, identities and social relationships. Again, a wide range of option courses is available, from which you'll choose four.

Year 3

You will learn research skills; explore compassion, empathy and ethics as critical to care; examine care alongside consideration of the concept of the person, spirituality, individuality and dignity; and study mental health problems and the therapeutic alliance. You'll also choose three option courses from a wide range.

Year 4

In your final year you will examine critical challenges in interdisciplinary teamwork, effective health and social care partnerships, leadership and change management, and public health initiatives and community collaborations for enhancing health. You'll also undertake an individual research project supported by a member of teaching staff. Again, the year will be completed with two option courses.

Are there additional costs?

You may incur local public transport costs on the optional community engagement course.

Our facilities

The School of Health in Social Science is in the University's Central Area with easy access to the University's Main Library and computer facilities.

Study abroad

In Year 3 you may have the option to study abroad through our international exchange programme.

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials, seminars, online resources and group work.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed primarily through coursework and exams, and you will complete an individual research project in your fourth year.

Graduates may pursue careers in community services, the voluntary sector, health services management, policy and research, health journalism, health education, patient advocacy, health promotion, liaison roles in health and social care, and project management/coordination. The programme provides a foundation for further professional career development or further study.

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