This new MSc - the first of its kind in Britain - aims to give candidates a solid grounding in key topics in psychological and psychiatric anthropology. Through detailed consideration of cases from Britain and around the world, we explore the ways in which person, emotion and subjectivity are shaped through cultural practices.
Normally a good Honours degree from a UK institution; an equivalent overseas qualification; or an equivalent professional qualification (eg from a health background or similar). Candidates not fully meeting these criteria may nevertheless be considered. Students whose first language is not English must have IELTS of at least 6.5 or equivalent.
Do our categories of behaviour – normal and abnormal – translate across cultures?
Why do ethnic minorities have different experiences of mental health?
Is there a ‘human nature’ underneath all the cultural differences?
Anyone interested in psychological processes, feeling and expression, memory and trauma, culture and personality, will have asked themselves questions of this kind. However, they are less likely to have asked themselves how (or if) we can recognise and analyse different emotions in other cultural settings.
In this new MSc degree, the first of its kind anywhere in Europe, we tackle these and other issues from an anthropological perspective, looking at the social and cultural dimensions of human experience. By engaging with debates on these important topics and through the examination of world ethnography (including the UK), participants will learn about selfhood, emotion, madness and identity in cultural context.
This MSc aims to give candidates a solid grounding in key topics in psychological and psychiatric anthropology. Through detailed consideration of cases from Britain and around the world, we explore the ways in which person, emotion, and subjectivity are shaped through cultural practices. Candidates from backgrounds in health, therapy, social work and psychology will be able to challenge the categories and assumptions inherent in standard approaches to psychological and behavioural issues.
Modules are subject to variation and students are advised to check with the School on whether a particular module of interest will be running in their year of entry.
Typical ModulesCompulsory ModulesThemes in Psychological and Psychiatric Anthropology
Main topics of study: the development of psychological and psychiatric anthropology; theories of emotion (approaches to, and critiques of, the 'social construction of emotion'); selfhood and subjectivity in cross-cultural perspective; psychoanalytic approaches; folk psychologies; culture and personality; mental health and ethnic minorities; cultural perspectives on madness; narrative and illness; the construction of diagnostic categories.
Ethnographic Research Methods
Main topics of study: the centrality of fieldwork to anthropological research; theoretical and practical issues of participant observation, open-ended unstructured interviews and semi-structured interviews; the advantages and disadvantages of using questionnaires during fieldwork; different styles of ethnographic writing; gaining access in ethnographic research; ethical clearance and ethical dilemmas arising in the course of fieldwork; constructing a research proposal.
A dissertation of approximately 15,000 words based on fieldwork is required. Dissertation topics will be agreed with a supervisor and formulated in group discussions. Students have the opportunity to develop a project related to their normal work or to strike out into new fields. Recent examples of dissertations include:
Becoming Muslim - religious conversion and habitus;
Religious affiliations in four different generations in Cyprus and how they connect to matters of ethnicity and identity;
Transcending fluid boundaries: Paganism in London;
Integrating psychological systems in theory and practice: interactions between traditional Chinese medicine and psychosomatic medicine at the Gezeten Haus Klinik (GHK), Bad Godesburg, Germany;
The making of the warrior - ritual, transformation and body in martial arts;
Lose your mind, come to your senses: an ethnographic study of psychological rehabilitation at Civil Hospital Karachi, Pakistan;
Construction of racial identity in mixed-race children;
The Brownie experience: building self-esteem in British girls;
Membership of a peer group organisation as a medium for social integration.
ElectivesMedical Anthropology in Clinical and Community Settings
Theoretical framings: Nature-nurture/culture-biology debates and the concept of local biologies; clinically and critically applied medical anthropology; risk perception and discourse on risk; narrative, suffering and subjectivity; biomedicine, population sciences and medicalisation; political economy of health anddevelopment; governance and politics of international aid; rights-based approach to health and bioethics; Thematic examples: ‘Adolescence’ and the life-cycle; cross-cultural psychiatry and community-based mental health; alternative therapies and medical pluralism; doctor-patient interactions; evidence-based medicine and policy-making; childbirth and maternal health; sexuality and reproductive health; genetics and biotechnology; medicines and pharmaceutical industry.
Anthropology of Biomedicine and Psychiatry
History of science & biomedicine; diagnostic technologies and classification; biotechnology and the modern self; ethics of bio-experimentation; epistemologies of statistics, epidemiology & the population sciences; medicalisation of the life cycle, case studies in menopause and adolescence; politics of aid, development and post-colonial science; the rise of evidence-based medicine; biomedical psychiatry and bio-colonialism; culture & critical neuroscience; challenges in the ethnography of science; implications of anthropology of science for clinical practice and population health.
Anthropology of Childhood and Youth
Main topics of study: the concept of the child in society; children's participation in society; children's ways of coping with violence; child play; child labour; the history of youth as a political category; young people's resistance to marginalisation; the radicalisation of young people.
Kinship and New Directions in Anthropology
Descent and alliance, the household, the incest taboo, new reproductive technologies, kinship and the state, gay kinship, the abortion debate, conceptions of social reproduction, kinship and migration, the social and cultural construction of paternity.
Anthropology of the Body
Main Topics of Study: The social body; embodiment, ‘habitus’ and phenomenological approaches to the body; cross-cultural perceptions of the body; the body in parts; sex and gender; childhood and the body; bodily norms, beauty and ideas of the perfect body; biomedicine and the body; death and the dying body.
Anthropology of Learning
Anthropology of Education and Learning: History and Theory; Education, Schooling and Literacy; Education and Categories of Distinction: Class and Social Inequality; Education and Categories of Distinction: Race and gender; Education, nation-building and development; Education and Learning: Culture and Cognition; Learning and Embodiment; Education, learning and apprenticeship; Learning, language and knowledge; Learning, identity and social difference; Learning and social memory.
Anthropology of the Person
Main topics of study: theories of the person; the notion of 'normality'; the emergence of memero-politics; classifications, kinds, and kind-making; 'looping effects'; cultural bound syndrome and 'ecological niche'.
Anthropology of Disability and Difference
Main Topics of Study: A critical overview of the medical and social models of disability that have framed discourse on disability; ethnographic and phenomenological alternatives to such approaches; conducting fieldwork with cognitively and physically impaired people; disability across the life course, with a focus on childhood disability; identity and disability; social policy, development, the state and disability; ethical dilemmas and the new genetics.
Plus two unassessed reading modulesHistory and Theory of Social Anthropology
Main topics of study: evolutionary' anthropology; 'race', 'civilisation'; diffusionism and the Boas school; the development of ethnographic research; functional, structure and comparison; structuralism; neo-evolutionism; culture and the interpretation of cultures; critiques (Marxism, feminism, post-modernism).
Issues in Social Anthropology
Main topics of study: kinship; gender; religion; anthropology of the body.
Further detailshttp://www.brunel.ac.uk/about/acad/sss/depts/anthropology/postgraduate (School of Social Sciences web pages)
Teaching and Learning
Teaching is by seminar, lecture and film showings/discussions.
Assessment is variously by essay, practical assignment (eg analysis of a short field exercise), and dissertation. There are no examinations.
Candidates will acquire analytical and research skills that can be applied in a vast range of careers (overlapping with those catered for by sociology and anthropology). For those taking time out from an established career, the degree will enhance professional development in such fields as psychology, psychiatry, nursing, social work, education, social policy, charities and development. There is also the opportunity for graduates to do further research for a PhD in psychiatric-focused anthropology.