Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

MBCHB 311A - Medical Humanities

7.5 Points

Semester One


Current students can view the Digital Course Outline for this course.


The Medical Humanities aims to provide medical students with the opportunity to study medical issues from the point of view of a humanities discipline. To that end we offer students a choice of courses from a variety of different humanities specialities. This not only provides students with an alternative perspective on medicine, it also provides the opportunity to understand how different disciplines tackle the issue of scholarship. Whereas excellence in science is dependent on rigorous research methodology, in the humanities the criterion for excellence is in the critical analysis and development of ideas. Thus the study of issues relevant to medicine, but embedded in the context of the Humanities can present an additional and important context, not only for the practice of medicine, but also for thinking about the nature of medical problems.

Course aims

Aims of the Medical Humanities Programme:

  • Foster reflection and deliberation on issues of suffering, loss, grief, life and death
  • Gain insight into the experience of illness, disease, and injury
  • Develop critical thinking in order to enhance the practice of doctors
  • Encourage effective communication within science and medicine

Course structure

MBChB 311A, Medical Humanities, is composed of a variety of special topics. The number on offer varies from year to year, but each year, students are asked to select three topics in which they would like to participate. Possible topics may include:

  • Ethical Issues in Contemporary Medicine
  • Concepts of Disease in the History of Medicine
  • Medicine and Performance
  • The Student Teacher
  • Musicians and Health
  • Medicine in Classical Thought
  • Spirituality in Health Care
  • Medicine and the Philosophy of Science
  • Comparative Literature
  • Medicine in the Visual Arts
  • Medicine and the Law


To complete this course students must enrol in MBCHB 311 A and B, or MBCHB 311

Course Administrator

Course Coordinator