UCL Anthropology


MSc in Biosocial Medical Anthropology

This master's degree addresses the significant and growing interest in Medical Anthropology training that examines biosocial aspects of health and disease. It will provide the opportunity to engage with cutting edge research and innovative theoretical conceptions and to gain skills in cross disciplinary methods training relevant to a biosocial perspective on health, disease and illness.

In the context of the 'Anthropocene', our ability to address the global challenges of both infectious and chronic disease, or the health consequences of climate change or pollution, is increasingly understood to require a biosocial approach. The growing problem of zoonotic diseases and epidemics such as Ebola are just one example of how a biosocial approach is proving vital to thinking of the way that human and animal, social and biological lives are entangled. At the same time, the boundaries between social and biological life seem to be increasingly blurred in light of developments in the fields of developmental biology, genomic and epigenetic research, which are grappling to understand how health inequalities 'get under the skin'. These are just some of the emerging topics that will be examined in the context of the MSc in Biosocial Medical Anthropology at UCL.

Developing and reflexively applying a cross disciplinary approach, the degree will provide the necessary training and skills for those wishing to gain proficiency and critical understanding of biosocial approaches. Core course elements will consider the importance and utility of aligning biological and socio-cultural historical approaches in examining disease, health and medicine and will include insights from Medical Anthropology, Disease Ecology and Environment, Evolutionary Medicine and Biological Anthropology.


The programme will consist of:  

  1. Two term core course component    
  2. Compulsory post-graduate methods training courses
  3. Dissertation    
  4. Two or three option courses 

The core course will run across two terms. In the first term, the core course will introduce students to key themes in the field of biosocial medical anthropology and will be taught by staff in medical and biological anthropology. Based on a two-hour seminar, topics covered will include: Evolutionary medical anthropology; disease ecology; bio-cultural approaches to health; developmental plasticity and local biologies. There will also be a compulsory methodological training component in term one that will focus on providing skills in both quantitative and qualitative research (including statistical analysis) and the integration of these methods. The second part of the core course in Term Two will examine and critically engage with applied aspects of biosocial medical anthropology using practical class based exercises, discussions and examples. It will consider the methodological opportunities and challenges of developing biosocial research and approaches for improving public health, managing infectious and chronic disease and a range of other global health challenges. Guest speakers from inside and beyond academia will be invited to participate in the second term core course.

Over the course of the year, students will also take two or three optional courses.

Current relevant optional courses in the department available to students will normally include (although these may be subject to change)

  • ANTHGD12 Medical Anthropology 
  • ANTHGD20 Aspects of Applied Medical Anthropology 
  • ANTHGE02 Ecology of Human Groups 
  • ANTHGE03 Population and Development 
  • ANTHGH08 Evolution of Human Brain, Cognition and Language  
  • ANTHGS21 Statistics and Causal Analysis for Qualitative Social Scientists 
  • ANTHGD10 Anthropologies of Science, Society and Biomedicine 
  • ANTHGD23 Reproduction, Sex and Sexuality 
  • ANTHGH14 Human Behavioural Ecology

Further Information

To register your expression of interest in the degree or if you have further questions please contact Sahra Gibbon (s.gibbon@ucl.ac.uk).