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Semester 1

Sociology of Medicine (STIS10013)


Science, Technology and Innovation Studies





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Visiting students must have passed at least 2 social science courses (i.e. Sociology, Politics/International Relations, Social Policy, Public Policy, Social Anthropology, Gender Studies, Women's Studies, Queer Studies, African Studies, American Studies) at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. **For this course in 2022/23, some teaching activity will be delivered asynchronously** Please note that spaces on Science Technology & Innovation Studies (STIS) 3rd year courses are limited so enrolment cannot be guaranteed.

Course Summary

Medicine is so pervasive in the modern Western world it seems difficult sometimes to understand what 'it' is. In Sociology of Medicine (SoM) we explore the complex ways medicine is shaped by, and in turn, shapes us and the world we live in; whether medicine can be conceived as a system of knowledge, a form of power or an example of professional practice. The course focuses on some of the core theoretical insights that have emerged from the sociological studies of medicine, health, disease, and illness and is divided into two sections. In the first part, we look at the nature of medical professions, the relationships between clinicians and patients, biomedical power and knowledge, the rise of information communication and technology, empowered patient subjectivity and patient activism. In the second half of the course, we will discuss the rise and status of public health (including some reflections on the social consequences of the coronavirus) and key contemporary issues in biomedicine (such as geneticisation, pharmaceuticalisation and cyborgisation). We discuss the social and ethical consequences of these new medical (bio)technologies that may go 'beyond therapy' to enhancement. The question that runs throughout the course is whether, there is occurring a wider transformation from medicalisation to biomedicalization that has changed what medicine 'was'.

Course Description

The course is designed to provide a broad overview of the sociology of medicine. Topics covered include, the nature and role of professional organisation in medicine; critical analyses of the medicalization and (bio)medicalization of society; social dynamics that shape experiences of health, illness and disease; micro and macro factors that influence the interactions between patients and medical professionals; patient organisations, health social movements and the shifting roles, identities and expertise of patients; the social impact of geneticisation, pharmaceuticalisation and cyborgisation for patients, professionals, and policy-making. The course will combine insights from sociological work on medicine, health, disease, and illness, and applied research and case studies on contemporary topics and controversies. Students will engage with and analyse a range of different materials from media representations of patients through to texts of doctor-patient interactions and health-related policy documentation and are encouraged to be reflexive and creative throughout.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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