Faculty of Behavioural and Cultural StudiesHealth and Society in South Asia – Master

The degree programme in Health and Society in South Asia is a combination of Medical Anthropology and regional studies, with a focus on South Asia. Medical Anthropology encompasses the study of health and well-being from a social science perspective. Its focus is on healing systems, not primarily in terms of medical theories or health policies, but rather, on how these function within a concrete socio-cultural context.

Facts & Formalities

DegreeMaster of Arts
Type of programmeConsecutive
Start of programmeWinter semester only
Standard period of study4 semesters
Language(s) of instructionEnglish
Fees and contributions171.75 € / Semester
Application procedureConsecutive master’s programmes with access restriction
Application deadlinesInformation about deadlines can be obtained after you have put together a degree program.
Can be completed entirely in EnglishYes

Course Content

The Master of Arts in Health and Society in South Asia combines Medical Anthropology with South Asian Studies. The programme imparts theories and methods of medical anthropology and includes a variety of health-related topics, such as plural medical systems, social justice and health, mental, public, and global health, as well as ethnographic methods. The programme was designed to offer an interdisciplinary approach, where students may attend courses taught at other departments of the South Asia Institute, such as political science or geography, as well as those offered by other institutes, such as the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies and the Institute of Anthropology. Students also regularly attend the Medical Anthropology Forum, a lecture series in which senior and junior scholars of Medical Anthropology and related disciplines present and discuss their latest research. At the conclusion of their studies, students will have gained a broader understanding of Medical Anthropology in the context of South Asia at large. The Master’s degree programme places great emphasis on teaching, presentation, and academic working skills, as well as on field work methods.

Course Structure

In the first semester, students will receive an introduction to the field of Medical Anthropology. They will also either begin study of a South Asian language or take an additional (Medical) Anthropology course, and will strengthen their scholarly working skills. In addition, they must choose two of several modules that reflect the thematic interest in Medical Anthropology and the regional interest in South Asia.

Thematic and regional modules may vary from year to year; they often include:

  • Mental Health
  • Ritual Healing
  • Reproductive Health
  • Anthropology of the Body
  • Development and Public Health
  • Globalization and Medicine
  • Medical History of South Asia
  • South Asian Knowledge Systems

Students with prior knowledge of a South Asian language will not be required to take the language module. Instead, they will attend two additional courses in Current Themes of Medical Anthropology and Anthropology.

The second semester focuses on anthropological research methods and dynamic relations between traditional concepts of health/ suffering/ healing and the impact of modern developments and changes on health and healing in South Asia. Along with either a South Asian language course or attendance at an additional (Medical) Anthropology course, students will also select another regional or thematic module.

During the third semester, all students complete a core module for Master's thesis preparation, during which they choose a relevant topic for anthropological inquiry, conduct intensive literature research on their proposed topic, and design a proposal and work-plan for preparation of the thesis. Students will continue with the study of one South Asian language and will select another regional or thematic module.

Throughout the first three semesters, students attend the Medical Anthropology Forum lecture series.

The summer intercessional period and the fourth semester are used for field work or internships and for writing the Master's thesis. The majority of students select the topic for their Master’s thesis based on field research conducted in South Asia.