Master Medicine, Science & Society

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  • Objectives
    The sociology of medicine and science is a rapidly growing area within social science. This perspective provides an analytical lens through which to address many of the problems and concerns of modern societies. This programme focuses on innovative medical technologies, particularly the interaction between the laboratory and the clinic ie translational research. The programme will enable students to combine training in key theories and concepts with the study of substantive problems and issues.
  • Academic title
    MSc Medicine, Science & Society
  • Course description
    Programme description

    - truly interdisciplinary programme aimed at both social science and science students.
    - wide range of exciting module options.
    - set in a leading international centre for biomedical science and clinical research.

    The central programme aims is to develop the student’s understanding of the factors which shape the emergence and development of the links between medicine, science and society and to deepen that understanding through the study of a selection of substantive areas. Specifically, the programme aims to: enable students to critically apply the key theories and concepts used in science studies and medical sociology to the shaping of ‘biomedical societies’;
    equip students with the social science skills necessary to engage with the key debates in the interrelated fields of medicine and science; broaden and deepen the student’s appreciation of common problems in the social study of biomedicine and biotechnology and to explore the ways these are addressed in different societies;
    convey an understanding of the technical and philosophical aspects of multidisciplinary research on medicine, science and society; provide a stimulating teaching and learning environment by allowing students to benefit from first hand exposure to staff research; provide an open and supportive learning environment by encouraging students to draw on their own experiences and relate them to the courses;
    offer skilled supervision to enable students to attain a level of competence in the design and execution of a biomedical social science studies research project.

    Teaching is by a mixture of lectures, seminars, and group work. There is also the prospect of practice placements/internships. Students also have the opportunity to engage with visiting speakers and senior figures from the worlds of medicine, science and society.

    Programme format and assessment
    The basis of the programme is two compulsory modules (30 credits each), two research modules (20 credits each) and ptional modules chosen from an approved list (to total at least 20 credits), together with a dissertation (60 credits). Assessment is by extended coursework essays for the core modules; a mix of written examinations and coursework for some optional modules; a 15,000-word research dissertation.

    Programme modules for MSc Medicine, Science & Society 

    Dissertation in Medicine, Science and Society
    (Core Module)
    This core course aims to: develop the students’ ability to identify and justify topics worthy of further investigation; develop students’ capacity to conduct research and systematic enquiry related to medicine, science and society and to develop their skills in research design; give students the opportunity to investigate an area of biomedicine in depth by planning and executing a small-scale independent social research project; develop students’ skills in data collections, representation and analysis; develop students’ understanding of the process and issues entailed in doing social research; develop students’ ability to handle an extended piece of writing (15000 words) involving extensive literature review, evaluation of research methods, reporting and interpreting findings; and to provide students with the research and writing skills that will be useful for their future professional and academic roles.

    Qualitative Research Methods (Core Module)
    The objective of this course is to equip students with qualitative methodological skills. It is designed to introduce students to a range of qualitative methodologies and analytic techniques. It will also provide experience of qualitative interviewing, ethnographic observation and qualitative data analysis. The course is split into two parts: the first part of the course covers intersubjective methods such as in-depth interviews, focus groups, and ethnography. The second part focuses on methods of qualitative analysis, including textual and discourse analysis, archival scholarship, and computer-based qualitative data coding, using packages such as NVIVIO NUD*ist and AtlasTI. Please contact the lecturer responsible for further information on the content of the course.

    Social Science Approaches to Biomedicine (Core Module)
    This course is designed to introduce students to social science perspectives on science and medicine. This core course examines a range of philosophical approaches to the social sciences, and discusses key theoretical debates within science studies and medical sociology. The course critically examines case studies of innovative biomedicine, introduces students to various social science perspectives, and enables students to appreciate the value of particular approaches to investigating the nexus between medicine, science and society. By the end of this course students will be able to: critically appraise the different conceptual and theoretical approaches to the study of biomedical science that have arisen in social science; apply core concepts appropriately to social science case studies of biomedicine; and demonstrate understanding of the ways in which ‘knowledge’ is constructed and deployed in the fields of medicine, science and social science.

    Translational Research: Linking Medicine, Science & Society
    (Core Module)
    This core course enables students to develop a critical understanding of how scientific knowledge is translated from the lab to the clinic. The course explores a series of case studies of translational research; evaluates different theoretical approaches to investigating the links between medicine, science and society; focuses on the social science framing of the interaction between the bench and the bedside, and analyses the legal, ethical and policy dimensions of science and medicine. On successful completion of this course, students will be able to: appraise social science perspectives on the interface between science and medicine; discuss key social science perspectives on the interaction between ‘the bench and the bedside’; explore the nature of multidisciplinary research on medicine, science and society; and examine core themes on the social science of the ‘lab-clinic interface’ through a series of case studies.

    Ageing in Society
    Considers how approaches, knowledge and methods from social gerontology apply to the study of ageing and later life. Topics addresed include: the different ways in which adult ageing is socially constructed, how to apply concepts from social gerontology to practice and family settings, the individual, interpersonal and social aspects of adult ageing and the problems of an ageing society and their relevance to professional practice.

    Biotechnology & the Cultural Politics of Nature
    The course allows students to explore the multiple and contested Nature(s) and identify how these contestations are encountered in politics and policy. The significance of everyday practices in shaping cultural understandings of places and their populations are drawn out through both historical and contemporary readings of Nature. These readings are inherently political. Through the analysis of multi-media information including academic texts, policy documentation, art and film, the question of a stable and shared national identity with one type of nature is put under question. Seminar discussions expose to critical examination the interaction between constructions and experiences of different natures and socio-cultural and political structures.

    Comparative Public Policy
    By examining a series of common issues in comparative context, the course aims to deepen the student's understanding of the working of the policy process in different societies. The specific aims of the course are to: enable the student to engage with a range of substantive policy problems; illuminate the importance of social and political context in shaping policy responses; consolidate understanding of the role of actors and processes; and highlight the value of conceptual analysis in the comparative study of public policy.

    Environmental Policy and Politics
    This module enables students to understand the main problems and opportunities of environmental actors with regard to environmental policy formulation and implementation. To have an insight into the pertinent debates surrounding the role of different environmental actors in the environmental management process. To understand debates surrounding differences between environmental policy-making in advanced economies and the Third World. To understand why different environmental actors are pursuing different agendas with regard to environmental policy and politics.

    Health: Concepts & Theories
    This course explores and debates key concepts and theories related to the idea of health. It encourages critical appraisal of the epistemological and ideological underpinnings of theoretical work in this area. It focuses on philosophical concepts of health, theories of health promotion, theoretical explanations of health action and health behaviour change and understanding of mental health

    Key Issues in Health Policy
    The core aims of this course are to: 1. Foster a critical understanding of the context for key issues in health policy. 2. Develop a systematic understanding of the major economic, political and sociological issues involved in the organisation, production and finance of health care services, both nationally and internationally. 3. Develop a critical awareness of key debates in the funding and provision of health care, such as the role of the state and the private sector. 4. Analyse the roles of professionals and users in the making and implementation of health policy through the use of case studies. 5. Explore issues of measuring and managing performance in health care. 6. Examine, through the use of case studies, the making of health policy and how specific health policies can be evaluated. Course content includes: introduction: what is health policy and why study it?; determinants of health: role of health care, public health etc.; funding health care systems; organising health care; role of the state and the private sector in health policy; role of professionals and users in health care and health policy; globalisation and the role of international organisations in health policy; measuring and managing performance; making health policy; evaluating health policy.

    Recent Developments in Science Education
    This course aims: to develop a knowledge and understanding of recent research and current developments in science education with a particular focus on the theoretical base; to develop the abilities to review critically and evaluate research findings and their implications; to consider the implications for policy and practice; to provide an opportunity for in-depth consideration, analysis and critical review of one research-based recent development in science education The course will begin by examining the historical context of science education, with particular reference to the UK, to explore the influences that have been formative on structuring the existing provision. We will explore the competing demands on science education, how they are, or are not met, and their impact on curricula and policy. In the sessions that follow the course will examine recent bodies of research in the areas of assessment, cognitive acceleration, ideas, evidence and argumentation, constructivism, the role of language in science education, informal science education and practical enquiry. You will be required to undertake focussed reading and engage in analysis and critique of the ideas and their implications. The intention is to develop a knowledge and understanding of some of the recent thinking that guides current thinking about what constitutes good practice and the research evidence for its value. During the course, you will be required to select one topic for a fuller analysis for your written assignment. One session will be devoted to a presentation of your initial thoughts and exploration and formative feedback provided for the full assignment.

    Risk Communication
    This module aims to develop a critical understanding of risk communication. The first section of the module focuses on how the field of risk communication was developed with a number of classes discussing the psychology of risk. The second half of the module provides an overview of the conceptual theories and ideas prevalent in the area of risk communication such as social amplification of risk and trust, and ends with a discussion on the future of risk communication. The module aims: - To provide the students with a history of the risk perception literature with a focus on both natural and technological hazards; To develop an understanding of the conceptual underpinnings of risk communication; To examine the successes and failures of risk communication programmes in both Europe and North America; and To develop an understanding of how regulators, policy makers and industry use risk communication techniques in every day policy making.

    Risk Governance
    This module examines the governance of risks to human health and safety and the environment in a wide range of governance settings. The module develops conceptual understanding of the mechanics and dynamics of risk regulation regimes and examines a range of explanatory approaches to risk governance. Specific aims are to: - develop understanding of the variety of ways in which risks to human health and safety and the environment are governed; - develop understanding of the concept of risk regulation regimes as a tool for describing and analysing risk governance variety; - develop understanding of the range of factors that shape risk governance regimes, how they succeed and why they fail; - develop understanding of trends in the reform of risk governance regimes and the related impacts of reform.

    Science and Religion
    This course is suitable for both science teachers and RE specialists. It serves as a general introduction to the subject. Topics will include: changing views of science from Greek Antiquity to the present; conflict thesis; Galileo affair; Darwinian controversies; miracles; language in science and religion; evidence and belief; cosmology; educational issues and resources.

    Science, Technology and Security Policy
    What role do developments in science and technology play in national security policy? Does the development of new technologies such as the ballistic missile and the nuclear weapon transform international security and require new policies, or is the development of new technologies driven by the security problems that states face? This course investigates these questions by examining developments at the intersection of science and security. It explores how scientific advances have influenced defence policy and international security in the past as well as preparing students to analyse the effects of current and future developments. To this end, it provides a basic grounding in the science underlying key weapons systems and security technologies, examines the role of science and scientists in the policy process, and through a series of case studies, prepares students to analyse the security implications of new technologies.

    Social Justice in the City
    This course explores what is meant by the concept of social justice and some of the difficulties involved in trying to enact socially just practices. It will consider tensions between distributive, cultural and associational forms of justice by looking at some examples of contexts in which these tensions arise.

    Social Policy in Gerontology
    The aim of this 15 credit module is to consider key areas of social policy and current policy debates, and assess how they relate to older people. By the end of the module, students should be able to: demonstrate a critical understanding and evaluate major national initiatives in social policy for older people, understand critically the factors that affect the implementation and delivery of social policy, crtically assess and appraise key issues and debates in social policy that are relevant to the lives of older people in areas such as housing, financial circumstances, health, long term care and social care

    The Policy Process
    The course is designed to introduce students to the study of the policy-making process and the role of policy analysis. It aims to give a comprehensive survey of the key literature, themes and issues in the study of policy making first by critically examining the ideas of the 'policy cycle' and its several 'stages', secondly by considering the roles of key actors and thirdly by examining the processes of agenda-building, policy 'framing' and the translation of policy into action. The second part of the course takes these themes forward through a series of case studies.

    The Social Context of Health
    This course encourages critical awareness and appreciation of social influences on, and the social context of, health. It considers social determinants of health and illness, inequalities in health and the relationship between public policy, health and disease.

    Theorising Health and Society
    This course aims to encourage the further development of participants' critical understanding of the contribution of social science theory to analysing the place of health in society. It discusses postmodernism and postmodernity, ways in which health-related themes can be approached and understood in post-modern society, and how social theory can be used to understand conflicts in society related to health, and the potential for their resolution.

    Values, Ethics and the Public Health
    This course encourages the development of capacity to engage in systematic reflection on the assumptions, concepts and values inherent in the fields of health/health care. It provides an introduction to the nature of ethical and values-related debates, discusses key issues in public health ethics and debates the relationship between public services and the idea of 'professional ethics'.

    War and Psychiatry
    Twenty seminars will provide an introduction to the main developments and principles of military psychiatry from 1900 to the present. Key topics include: the issue of shell shock in World War One; the discovery of 'forward psychiatry' and 'PIE' methods to treat combat stress reaction; attempts to treat 'battle exhaustion' in World War Two; group therapy at Mill Hill and Northfield; comparative approaches in France and Germany; the realities of war and the impact of combat on servicemen; the efficacy of forward and base treatments; Vietnam and the rise of PTSD; veterans pressure groups and war pensions; Gulf War syndrome; psychiatric responses of civilians to trauma and the issue of risk communication: the need to encourage vigilance without causing panic. There will also be a visit to either: Combat Stress (Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society), to the Historial de la Grande Guerre and the Somme, or to the Centre for Defence Medicine. The course is primarily based on the UK experience, though reference throughout will be made to US, Israeli, French and German examples for comparison. Students will be encouraged to explore cultural differences between armies. It is a comparative course, which uses the past to inform the present and draws on the differences between nations. 

    One year FT, September to September. Two years PT, September to September.

Other programs related to health sciences (various)

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