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MA Medical History and Humanities

A unique opportunity to study health from diverse perspectives

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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The MA in Medical History and Humanities is an exciting interdisciplinary course jointly run by the Departments of History and English. It is also open to people with backgrounds in other humanities disciplines, as well as those with social science, science and public health backgrounds with an interest in the medical humanities. 

The course is shaped by cutting-edge international research spanning the fields of medical history, literature, sociology, philosophy, health sciences and policy. Students and staff from varying disciplines, periods and geographical regions work collaboratively, giving you a distinctive interdisciplinary and international experience.

You'll explore historical, literary, social and cultural perspectives on illness and health, general wellbeing, issues of public health and the history of medicine. You'll examine the links between history, the humanities and policy to gain advanced skills in analysis and critical reflection.

The course draws on expertise from:

Strengthened by an intimate class size and a wide range of backgrounds, we engaged in fascinating discussions on bodies, healthcare and illness across temporal and geographical boundaries. From early modern vitalism to the story of Henrietta Lacks, the course offers a thorough approach to emergent and traditional themes in the medical humanities.
Alice, MA Medical History and Humanities student

Interdisciplinary perspectives

This course crosses the boundaries of several disciplines, allowing you to look at current and past studies in a different light.

34th in the world

for English and History in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2024

Course content

Over the year, you’ll study a core module and a selection of option modules. You'll also hone your research skills with training throughout the year, and then complete a 14,000 - 16,000-word dissertation.


Core modules

Option modules

You will study three option modules. Modules are offered from both the Department of History and the Department of English. You can choose from a range of topics in medical history, the humanities and beyond. In previous years, options have covered topics such as:


The options available to you will be confirmed after you begin your course. For further information please get in touch.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.


You will write a dissertation of between 14,000 - 16,000 words on a topic of your choice. Using source materials and analysis techniques, you will draft up the findings into an independently researched dissertation.

You will receive support, advice and guidance from your dissertation adviser throughout your project. The range of expertise of our staff and of our source materials means we can provide you with guidance on a wide range of topics. 

You will have five one-to-one meetings with your dissertation adviser across Semester 2 and the summer period (June/July). In these meetings, you will discuss the feasibility of your project and receive feedback on two draft chapters of your dissertation. 

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Deploy an in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of cutting-edge interdisciplinary scholarship to interpret and account for the dynamics of illness, wellbeing, embodiment, and global health policy.
  • Differentiate the perspectives of multiple historical and cultural actors and assess their broader contextual and interdisciplinary significance using a range of analytical approaches and methods.
  • Demonstrate a high capacity for independent thought and action, through considered critical arguments in the course of research, writing, and/or collaborative engagement.
  • Construct innovative essay and dissertation questions that are relevant to the field of medical history and its wider interdisciplinary applications within and beyond academic research.
  • Demonstrate advanced research techniques and gain transferrable skills in locating and analysing relevant sources, data, and archival materials using manual and digital tools; match and manipulate raw materials using carefully chosen and clearly articulated methodologies drawn from a range of disciplines as appropriate.
  • Solve problems in relation to practical issues that emerge during the research process and in relation to complex interdisciplinary debates about global health policy, while understanding the ethics of representation.
  • Communicate research findings imaginatively, lucidly, and succinctly using a variety of media forms, including seminar discussion, oral presentations, and critical writing.
  • Deploy different forms of source evidence in order to build arguments that can be robustly defended and impactfully applied across a range of critical and practical contexts.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

There is no obligation to purchase books or other texts - all core texts and resources will be available in our library or online.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Funding for this course 

  • Overseas students may also be eligible for the Chevening Scholarship, please use the link to find out more.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

Most of your modules will consist of weekly two-hour seminars. The Research Training module will be taught through three-hour workshops. You will normally work in small groups of fewer than 20 students.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of History in Vanbrugh College on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place in Vanbrugh College.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be primarily assessed by essays and your dissertation. You will have the chance to submit assignments for formative assessment. These assessments do not affect your final mark but will give you an opportunity to receive written feedback on your work and 1:1 personal guidance from your tutors. You will also have opportunities to present your work in different formats and develop your public speaking and presentation skills.

Two students in a seminar

Careers and skills

You will complete this course with the academic, personal, and professional skills needed to pursue further academic research, or expand your career horizons towards health policy analysis, consultancy, or project work in the governmental and non-governmental sectors. 

This course provides unique insights into health and medical policy, meaning you'll have the opportunity to better understand the links between health and social and economic development, as well as cross-cultural policy-making, via certain option modules.

Career opportunities

  • public health specialist
  • social policy officer
  • medical researcher
  • community health worker
  • arts administrator
  • Civil Service Fast Stream

Transferable skills

  • analytical thinking
  • formation of original arguments
  • effective time management
  • communication skills
  • professional presentation skills
  • project design and management skills
  • organisation skills
  • independent research skills, using a range of physical and digital resources and methodologies

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You will need to submit examples of written work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting written work.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
Cambridge CEFR C1 Advanced: 185, with 176 in each component
Oxford ELLT 8, minimum 7 in each component
Duolingo 130, minimum 120 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT C1 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 75 with a minimum of 70 in each component
KITE 495-526, with 459-494 in all other components
Skills for English C1: Pass overall, with Pass in each component
PTE Academic 67, minimum 61 in each component
TOEFL 96, minimum 23 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all components

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Alexander Medcalf

Learn more

Department of English and Related Literature, Department of History

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