Master of Philosophy in Medical Anthropology

(See also the general notice at the commencement of these regulations.)

Within the Division of Social Sciences, the course shall be administered by the School of Anthropology. The regulations made by the divisional board are as follows:

  • 1. The Division of Social Sciences shall elect for the supervision of the course a Standing Committee, namely the Teaching Committee of the School of Anthropology, which shall have power to arrange lectures and other instruction. The course director shall be responsible to the Standing Committee.

  • The examination shall consist of the following:

  • 1. Qualifying Examination

    Every candidate will be required to satisfy the examiners in an examination for which, if he or she passes at the appropriate level, he or she will be allowed to proceed to the second year of the M.Phil. Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Medical Anthropology for at least three terms, and will, when entering for the examinations, be required to produce a certificate from their supervisor to this effect. Every candidate for the M.Phil. qualifying examination will be required to satisfy the examiners in four written papers to be taken in the Trinity Term of the academic year in which the candidate's name is first entered on the Register of M.Phil. Students or, with the approval of the Divisional Board, in a subsequent year. The following four papers shall be taken:

    • (1) Concepts of disease, illness, health and medicine in global perspective

      The scope of this paper includes discussion of cross-cultural concepts of health, disease, sickness, pain, illness causation, diagnosis and treatment, from conjoined socio-cultural perspectives and human ecology. It explores metaphor and narrative at the interface of biological and cultural processes, the distribution of disease patterns in the light of environmental change, social inequality, global mobility and marginality, and the co-existence of conventional, alternative, and traditional health systems.

    • (2) Theory and practice of bio-medicine and of other medical systems

      The scope of this paper includes issues of public health and policy on a comparative and global basis. It draws on ethnographies of particular societies to illustrate and test theoretical claims in medical anthropology. It discusses infectious diseases, specific health campaigns, evolutionary trends and life histories, alongside culturally defined concepts of risk, vulnerability, fate, evil, pollution, divination, religion, and shamanism.

    • (3) Critical medical anthropology

      The scope of this paper comprises ecological and socio-cultural perspectives, and explores links to other fields and disciplines, including the place of material culture in medicine. It includes a critique of basic assumptions and methods in medical anthropology and consideration of the concept of well-being as being broader than conventional concepts of health. Themes for discussion include the phenomenology of the body, growth and personhood, gender, ageing and dying, notions of resistance and resilience, relationships between biodiversity and adaptability, reproduction, and fertility, and nutrition.

    • (4) Option paper

      Candidates must select one option paper from those taught each year for the M.Sc in Social Anthropology. Titles of options will be made at the beginning of each academic year, and candidates may select their option from any of Lists A, B, or C.

  • 2. Final Examination

    Candidates must follow a course of instruction in Medical Anthropology for at least three terms, and will, when entering for the final examination, be required to produce a certificate from their supervisor to this effect. The final examination shall be taken in the Trinity Term of the academic year following that in which the candidate's name is first entered on the Register of M.Phil. Students or, with the approval of the Divisional Board, in a subsequent year.

    Each candidate shall be required:

    • (1) to submit evidence of practical work and a research proposal in accordance with I below;

    • (2) to submit a thesis in accordance with II below;

    • (3) to present himself or herself for oral examination if required by the examiners. The oral examination may be on the candidate's written assignments, or dissertation, or both.

  • I. Methods of fieldwork and social research

    • [For students starting before MT 2015: The satisfactory completion of a course of practical work in (i) participant observation, in-depth interviewing, archival research, and qualitative data analysis; (ii) basic principles of statistical inference, and statistical models for the analysis of quantitative social science data, and (iii) methods of data collection, including questionnaire design, interviewing, and coding.] [For students starting from MT 2015: The satisfactory completion of a course of practical work in (i) ethnographic fieldwork methods, including participant observation, archival research, in-depth interviewing, questionnaire design, coding and qualitative data analysis; (ii) basic principles in descriptive statistics and statistical inference for the analysis of quantitative social science data; (iii) language-focused methods of data collection and their interpretation.]

    • [For students starting from MT 2015: Candidates are required to choose any two of the three courses listed above and shall submit to the Examination Schools by noon on Tuesday of fifth week of the third term of the second year of the course the portfolio of the two courses of practical work completed, together with a research proposal, accompanied by a statement that they are the candidate's own work except where otherwise indicated. ]

      The research proposal should not exceed 2,500 words. It need not be on the theme of the thesis, but should reflect the candidate’s competence in conceiving and structuring an independent research project.

      [For students starting before MT 2015: Candidates shall submit to the Examination Schools by noon on Tuesday of fifth week of the third term of the second year of the course reports of the practical work completed and the research proposal, accompanied by a statement that they are the candidate's own work except where otherwise indicated.]

  • II. Thesis

    Each candidate shall be required to submit a thesis of not more than 30,000 words (excluding references and appendices) on a subject approved by the supervisor. He or she shall send to the Teaching Committee of the School of Anthropology, with the written approval of his or her supervisor, [For students starting from MT 2016: and on the form provided for that purpose, a preliminary] [For students starting before MT 2016: the proposed] title of the thesis, together with a paragraph describing its scope, [For students starting from MT 2016: by noon on the Tuesday of the fifth week of the Trinity term of the first year of the course. A further form, identical in its provision, and confirming or amending the earlier submission as necessary, shall be submitted to the above Committee] [For students starting before MT 2016: for consideration by the School of Anthropology,] by noon on the Monday of second week of Michaelmas Term in the academic year following that in which his or her name was entered on the Register of M.Phil. Students. The thesis (three copies) must be typewritten and delivered to the Examination Schools, High Street, Oxford, not later than noon on Tuesday of the fifth week of Trinity Term in the academic year in which the Final Examination is taken. The dissertation shall be provided with an abstract of up to 250 words, to be placed immediately after the title page. The word count shall be stated on the outside front cover of the thesis.

    The Examiners shall require a successful candidate to deposit a copy of his or her thesis in the Tylor Library. If the thesis is superseded by a D.Phil. thesis by the same student partly using the same material, the Divisional Board of Social Sciences may authorise the withdrawal of the M.Phil. thesis from the Tylor Library. Such candidates will be required to sign a form stating whether they give permission for their thesis to be consulted.

    The examiners may award a distinction for excellence in the whole examination.

  • III. Resits

    In order to pass the degree, a student must pass all its assessed components. Where one or more components are failed, the student will be given the opportunity to re-sit or re-submit them once, as the case may be. Any subsequent award of the degree on successful completion of all the assessed components may be delayed by up to three terms, i.e. until the Examination Board next meets.