Sociology of Health and Medicine

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Carrie Friese S207


This course is available on the BSc in Social Policy and Sociology, BSc in Sociology and Diploma in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course provides an introduction to the sociology of health and illness. It focuses on the social, economic, political, ethical and subjective aspects of health and healing. Key thematic areas of inquiry include: medicine as a social institution; the social, political and cultural parameters that shape illness experiences; health inequalities within the UK and globally; and the political economies of health care. Indicative topics explored within these thematic areas include: chronic illness, mental health, HIV/AIDS, disability, reproductive technologies, pharmaceuticals and clinical trials. The course aims to develop an understanding of key issues in medicine and society that are empirically grounded and theoretically engaged, thereby introducing students to the social bases of health and illness. To achieve this, the course combines traditional learning with additional exercises. Exercises may include conducting an interview with a health professional and visiting the Wellcome Museum.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce three essays of 1,000-1,500 words due in Weeks 5, 10 and 15. A mock exam will be held in Week 20.

Indicative reading

S Nettleton The Sociology of Health and Illness (2006), A Nelson Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (2011), M Foucault The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception ([1973] 1994), I Hacking The Social Construction of What? (1999), A Kerr Genetics and Society: A Sociology of Disease (2004), M Konrad Narrating the New Predictive Genetics: Ethics, Ethnography and Science (2005), E Martin Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture (2007), V Nguyen The Republic of Therapy: Triage and Sovereignty in West Africa’s Time of AIDS (2010), A Mol The Logic of Care: Health and the Problem of Patient Choice ([2006] 2008), A Petryna When Experiments Travel: Clinical Trials and the Global Search for Human Subjects


Exam (50%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Two hard copies of the assessed essay, with submission sheets attached to each, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S219A, no later than 16:30 on the first Wednesday of Summer Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.

Attendance at all classes is required. Submission of all set coursework is compulsory.

Student performance results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

Classification % of students
First 17.1
2:1 65.7
2:2 11.4
Third 5.7
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2012/13: 19

Average class size 2012/13: 10

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 83.3%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)