SO232      Half Unit
Sociology of Health and Illness

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Carrie Friese STC S213


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


No specific pre-requisites, but this course is only open to second and third year students in Sociology and other programmes. It is not available as a first year option.

Course content

Sociology of Health and Illness explores the ways in which experiences of health and illness are socially organized. We will also ask how the management of health and illness organizes social life. To explore experiences of health and illness, we will look at how specific 'medical disorders' (e.g., ageing, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, childbearing, menopause, etc.)  are 'embodied' in socially patterned ways. Empirical studies of specific disorders will be read, in conjunction with analysis of other kinds of texts (e.g., popular writing, film, performance art, museum exhibits, etc.). To address how the management of health and illness organizes social life and vice versa, key theories in the sociology of health and illness will be explored. This will include Parsons's sick role; Weberian and feminist understandings of professional dominance; medicalization, demedicalization and biomedicalization; and Foucaultian notions of surveillance, biopolitics and governmentality.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Teaching will comprise of a one hour lecture and one hour class each week. A revision session will be held to prepare students for the seen examination.

Students on this course will have a reading week during Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

The assessed examination is supported by ONE take home, mock examination that is formative. Participation is supported by student’s first making ONE comment on the Moodle discussion board in Weeks 2-3 and responding to another student’s comment from Weeks 4-5.

Indicative reading

S Nettleton The Sociology of Health and Illness (2006), 

P Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine (1982),

A Nelson Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination (2011),

Foucault The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception ([1973] 1994),

I Hacking The Social Construction of What? (1999),

A Frank, (1997) The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness and Ethics (1997),

E Martin Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture (2007),

Latimer The Gene, The Clinic and the Family (2013),

Kaufman (2015) Ordinary Medicine,

Raikhel and William Garriott (2013) Addiction Trajectories


In class assessment (20%) in the LT.
Take home exam (80%) in the ST.

Weight 80%

Type –seen take-home exam where 3 questions need to be answered from 6 questions

Number of words: No more than 1,300 words per answer, and 3,600 words in total

Timing of submission: First Monday of Summer Term


Weight 20%

Type-Participation. Students are to make ONE comment on the Moodle discussion board and respond to ONE other student’s comment from Weeks 6-11.

Number of words. No more than 300 words per comment

Timing of submission: Weeks 6-11

Assessed seen exam due on Monday of Week 1 in ST. Two copied of the assessed seen exam to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116, no later than 16:30 on the day of submission. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day. 

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2016/17: Unavailable

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication