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About the course

The MPhil in Health, Medicine and Society is a nine-month course that is jointly run by the Departments of History and Philosophy of Science, Sociology and Social Anthropology. The course is conducted by means of supervisions and taught modules. Students submit three essays and a dissertation. Work for each essay and the dissertation is separately supervised by senior members and associates of the Departments.

The course is overseen by the MPhil Manager, who takes responsibility for day-to-day oversight of the course and liaison with staff and students. The MPhil Manager for 2017-18 is Dr Lauren Kassell.

Students also choose a ‘home’ subject and are appointed a corresponding Subject Manager, who guides them in formulating a programme of study. For 2017-18 the Subject Managers are:

  • History of Medicine: Dr Lauren Kassell
  • Medical anthropology: Dr Maryon McDonald
  • Medical Sociology: Dr Robert Pralat
  • Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine: Dr Stephen John (Michaelmas), Dr Anna Alexandrova (Lent), Professor Tim Lewens (Easter)

You will be introduced to the staff involved in teaching and co-ordinating the course at the induction meeting in early October, and meet with the MPhil Manager and your Subject Manager regularly throughout the year to discuss your plans and progress, and to receive help and advice as needed.

You will also have supervisors for each piece of work you complete, whose role is to help you do the research and writing needed. They do not grade your work; your submitted essays and dissertation will be examined by others, and your supervisor for any one piece of work is never allowed to examine it too. Your supervisors can see you on a regular basis, but it is up to you to work with them to schedule these meetings according to your needs. As a rule of thumb, you can expect two hours of one-to-one supervision for each essay, and four hours for the dissertation.

If problems arise with research or supervision, you can talk to your supervisors, Subject Manager, the MPhil Manager, or your College Graduate Tutor.

You must be resident in Cambridge for the duration of the nine-month MPhil course. The word 'vacation' has a technical meaning in Cambridge: it does not mean 'holiday', but 'research time', and you will be expected to work for most of these periods (though of course you should take a break for a week or two over during these vacations).