Sociology of Health and Medicine

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kay Inckle STC S110


This course is available on the BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc 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 a critical introduction to the sociology of health and illness. It focuses on the political, ideological, social, economic  and ethical aspects of health, illness and medicine. . Key thematic areas of inquiry include: medicine as an institution; power, medicine and survivor perspectives; the social, political and cultural parameters that shape health and illness experiences and health inequalities within the UK and globally;. Indicative topics explored within these thematic areas include: mental health/illness and self-harm, HIV/AIDS, disability, gender,  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 alongside critical, reflective and applied skills. The course uses a range of learning materials and exercises, it encourages active participation, and the use of contemporary examples which may include field trips.


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.

Reading weeks: week 6 MT and week 6 LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce three essays of 1,000-1,500 words due in Weeks 7, 12 and 19. A mock exam will be held in Week 21.

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), J Gabe Key Concepts in Medical Sociology (2011), D Lupton Medicine as Culture: Illness, Disease and the Body in Western Societies (2000) BS Turner Medical Power and Social Knowledge (2007), C Barnes and G Mercer Exploring Disability: A Sociological Introduction (2010), K Inckle Safe with Self-Injury: A Practical Guide to Understanding, Responding & Harm-Reduction (2016) T Dickinson Curing Queers: Mental Nurses and their Patients (2015) F Widdance Twine Outsourcing the Womb(2011) V Nguyen The Republic of Therapy: Triage and Sovereignty in West Africa’s Time of AIDS (2010), 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, S116, 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

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
First 11.4
2:1 70.5
2:2 15.9
Third 2.3
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2015/16: 29

Average class size 2015/16: 15

Capped 2015/16: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication