Rose Davidson - Medical Anthropology MSc
8 March 2021
I completed the MSc in Medical Anthropology in 2017-18. Prior to the MSc at UCL, I studied History and Politics in South Africa where I became interested in the politics of health and the experience of health inequality. I came to the course wanting to learn more about how ethnographic research methods can uncover the lived experience and to explore cross-cultural perspectives on health and wellbeing.
I was drawn to the MSc at UCL because of the strong focus on methodology, I knew I would be supported to carry out my own ethnographic research and because of the breadth of courses on offer. During the year in addition to the core Medical Anthropology courses I took courses on Applied Medical Anthropology, Reproduction Sex and Sexuality and Biosocial Anthropology. Within each course, small class sizes, expert lecturers and tutors and a welcoming, non-judgemental environment led to fascinating discussions and engagement with the course material and the flexibility around essays allowed me to explore my specific interests.
Over the year, there were numerous opportunities to learn beyond the course curicula. The departmental seminars were a great source of inspiration. With guest speakers, or those within the department sharing their work, the seminars added to the general environment of enthusiasm and learning endemic to the department. The staff within the department, whether administrative or teaching created a supportive and nurturing environment in which to study and develop as master’s students.
For my dissertation field work I found a placement at the Perinatal Mental Health Project, based at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. My supervisor at UCL encouraged and supported me to carry out my own research and I had great mentorship at the Project in South Africa. I completed out 6 weeks of fieldwork, based at an antenatal clinic near Cape Town carrying out in-depth interviews with women accessing a perinatal counselling service. The opportunity to put into practice all the methodology we learnt during the course was incredible, the research project was definitely the highlight of my MSc year.
Since finishing I have continued to build on interests and skills fostered during the MSc. I work in policy and evaluation for a UK charity seeking to reduce inequalities in maternal and child health. I frequently carry out qualitative research with health care professionals and parents, placing the lived experience at the heart of the work we do. I continue to apply the strong critical perspective that was fostered during the MSc in my policy work. I am still in touch with many of my wonderful class mates from UCL, and think back on the MSc as an incredibly formative year.