• Status: Fully Approved
  • Start date: October 2017
  • Duration:

      2 years part-time

    • Attendance:

      1 evening a week, September to July

    • Location:

        Central London

      Programme overview

      What is ‘the art of medicine’ and how can it improve patient care? This new degree programme in medical humanities allows you to reflect on and develop your daily clinical practice, through a deeper understanding of the humanities - art, literature, music, myth and culture.

      The programme draws together the emergent fields of medical humanities and intercultural medicine to explore and develop the lived experience of clinicians in the everyday complexities of real-life clinical settings as they interact with patients and cultures.

      You will encounter the rich insights of the humanities about culture, the body and what it means to be human, and find ways to integrate these with medical science, to develop a richer understanding of your clinical practice. As part of this engagement, you will have the opportunity to explore non-Western models of medical practice, and to consider how far they complement biomedicine, from the viewpoints of cultures, patients and practitioners. You will acquire and refine skills in verbal and written communication, as well as in research and critical analysis.

      This programme combines world-class, research-led humanities teaching with an established understanding of the real-life experience of clinical practice and patient care.

      How to apply

      You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

      Need help with your application? Watch videos featuring our academic experts giving advice on applying to Birkbeck and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.

      Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

      Application deadlines and interviews

      We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.

      Why study this course at Birkbeck?

      • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
      • In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), English Language and Literature at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 91% of eligible staff submitted research, of which 75% was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.

      Course structure

      In Year 1, you take core module 1 (Perspectives, Practices and Patients) in Term 1 and you take your first option module from the designated group of medical humanities options in Term 2. In Term 3, you take Psycho-Social Research - Working Below the Surface; this is preparation for your summer task, which is to ‘negotiate entry’ into a placement within another medical tradition, such as British herbalism, acupuncture or TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) or another medical speciality that is distinct from your own. A six-week observation of an ‘alternative’ medical practice and tradition forms a fundamental part of the structure of core module 2 in Year 2.

      In Year 2, you take core module 2 (Third Spaces - Working with Your Own and Other Cultures) in Term 1 and take your second option module in Term 2, which you can choose from the wide range of courses on offer within the School of Arts, the School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, and the School of Law. In Term 3, you attend a course on research skills and then undertake a 15,000-word dissertation, for submission at the end of September.

      Year 1 compulsory modules

      Year 2 compulsory modules

      Option modules

      Entry requirements

      You must have graduated from a UK medical school or hold an equivalent first degree from an overseas medical school.

      Applicants from other healthcare or professional backgrounds may be admitted to the programme. Such applicants must hold relevant professional qualifications and/or a first degree (2:2 or above).

      International entry requirements

      If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

      If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

      Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.


      Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa
      Part-time overseas students: £ 7225 pa

      Payment and Fees Discounts

      Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

      Fees discounts: If you are a Birkbeck alumni or a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

      Funding and Financial Support

      The government's new postgraduate loan scheme allows you to borrow up to £10,000 to cover the cost of your tuition fees, living costs or other study expenses – and you don't have to start repaying until 2019.

      Part-time students who are experiencing financial need may apply for assistance from the Birkbeck Alumni Fund Postgraduate Opportunity Bursary.

      Find out more about funding and financial support at postgraduate level.

      Careers and employability

      Graduates go in to careers in healthcare, medicine, education, and management. Possible professions include healthcare service manager, general practice or hospital doctor, or health promotion specialist. This degree may also be useful in becoming a higher education lecturer, management consultant, or science writer.

      Find out more about these professions.

      Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.

      We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

      Teaching and assessment


      Through seminars, tutorials, group work and fieldwork.


      Principally by written coursework: both essays and a 15,000-word dissertation. You will continue to be supported in your acquisition of academic writing skills throughout the course in various ways.

      Our research

      Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

      Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

      Read about Birkbeck research that enriches our experience and understanding of our shared history, culture and art.

      Further study opportunities

      We offer a range of MPhil/PhD programmes.