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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Health, Medicine and Society is no longer accepting new applications.


There are four core taught modules for this course, and eight optional modules. Each module consists of four 1.5 hour seminars. All students are expected to attend all four core modules, which run in Michaelmas Term, and at least two optional modules, which run in Michaelmas and Lent.

Core modules provide advanced introductions to their disciplines:

  • History of Medicine
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Medical Sociology
  • Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine

Optional modules address a range of topics, which vary from year-to-year and reflect current staff research interests, from different disciplinary perspectives. Past topics have included reproduction, public and environmental health, non-epistemic values in biomedical research, and anthropologies of cancer.

Students are also encouraged to participate in the research seminars and reading groups that run across the three Departments, and receive regular supervision on their written work. They can expect two hours of supervision on each of the three essays they complete, and four hours for the dissertation.

Each student receives general support and guidance throughout the course from the Course Manager, who takes responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of the course and liaisons with staff and students. Students also have a 'home subject', based on their research interests, and the Manager for that subject can guide them in formulating a programme of study, including identification of topics and supervisors for the essays and dissertation. Students work with supervisors on individual pieces of coursework.

One to one supervision

Students can expect 10 hours of one-on-one supervision: 2 hours for each of the three essays, and 4 hours for the dissertation.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

At least 36 hours per year (6 hours per module).

The course runs dissertation seminars at the beginning of Easter Term, and all students have the opportunity to present their dissertation work to an audience of their peers.


Students are encouraged to attend other lectures, research seminars, workshops and reading groups within the Departments. There are also graduate training sessions available, which focus on key research, presentation, publication and employment skills.


Students receive independent reports from two assessors on each of their three essays and the dissertation and have the opportunity to discuss this feedback with the Course Manager, Subject Manager and their supervisors. They will also have access throughout the course to the Course Manager and the other staff involved in delivering the course. There is an opportunity for informal feedback from peers in the direction and progress of dissertation research during the dissertation seminars.


Thesis / Dissertation

Students submit a dissertation of up to 12,000 words, on a dissertation topic approved by the Degree Committee, at the end of Easter Term. The dissertation accounts for 60 per cent of the final mark for the course. A viva is not normally required but may be requested by the Examiners.


Students submit three essays over the course of the first two terms, on topics set by the seminar leaders for the core and optional modules. The first essay is up to 3,000 words and is formative, meaning its assessment does not contribute to the final mark. The second and third essays are up to 5,000 words each, and each account for 20 per cent of the final mark.

Key Information

9 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of History and Philosophy of Science This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

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Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Feb. 28, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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