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Unit information: The Arts & Humanities in Medical and Healthcare Education in 2015/16

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Unit name The Arts & Humanities in Medical and Healthcare Education
Unit code MEEDM0021
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Ms. Tricia Thorpe
Open unit status Not open

PG Certificate in Teaching and Learning for Health Professionals



School/department Teaching and Learning for Health Professionals
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


The Medical Humanities is a recent, fast-growing area of academic enquiry. It addresses contemporary criticism of the bio-medical model of current healthcare practices and frameworks by offering a non-scientific perspective on health and illness, on patients, doctors and other health workers, thus creating a space for inter-disciplinary conversation.

This unit aims to provide learners with the opportunity to reflect on the Arts and Humanities as broad educational aids to the development of a deeper understanding of the human condition, particularly in relation to health, disease and disability. It also aims to broaden learners’ knowledge of and ability to evaluate the use of the Arts and Humanities in medical and other health-care educational programmes. It further aims to give them the chance to experience the arts/humanities and to consider ways in which they may potentially be used as pedagogic tools, e.g. for teaching communications, observation or empathy in healthcare settings.

Intended learning outcomes

Learners will be able to

- describe and critique the use made of the Arts and Humanities in training and educating future doctors, nurses, midwives and/or other health professionals - evaluate different models of the use of Humanities/Arts in healthcare and healthcare education - explore the rationale for incorporating the Arts/Humanities into healthcare education - relate the qualities required of a modern doctor/nurse/midwife etc. to the aims of Arts/Humanities teaching

Teaching details

Teaching/ learning methods

Pre-day 1 work (via Blackboard)

Students will be allocated different papers in advance of study day 1 (via BB) to represent the range of understanding and conceptions of the term Medical Humanities. They will be asked to read their paper and write a short summary + comment on it to submit to a blog on BB. This acts as an advance organiser and the ideas covered will be expanded in the first study day. Students should read each others’ summaries/ comments in advance of day 1 and come prepared to discuss.

Study days

Activities will be drawn from current best practice in teaching small groups and will be grounded in experiential approaches. Indicative methods:

o Small group discussion and debate

o Tutor in-put on background and theoretical framework

o Presentation and critique of papers

o Experience of close analysis of texts

o Evaluation and discussion around artefacts/ texts, e.g. analysis of video clips

o Proposals for resources in the field

o Peer critique and feedback

o Reading and on-line tasks

o invited speakers to bring in varied perspectives

Contact hours per week:

1 hr per week staff/ student contact time – delivered as two workshops of 6 hours each.

Total of 200 study hours (including contact time) over a 12-week period = 12.5 hrs per week.

Student input: Contact hours: 12h/ on-line related work: 5 h/ assessment: 50h/ independent study: 133h

Assessment Details

Formative assessment will include peer and tutor feedback on commentary on papers; tutor observation of participation in classroom discussion (on the relevance of arts/ humanities to professional development in healthcare); peer and tutor feedback on the analysis of artefacts/ texts or other items as teaching aids.

Summative (100%): a 3000 – 3,500 word assignment (or equivalent in other media at the discretion of the unit lead) which allows the learner to demonstrate and apply the learning outcomes to their own teaching situation/ area of work, drawing on appropriate literature and theory in the field. See below the following table for indicative titles.

Reading and References

Key texts:

  • Evans & Finlay, (2001) (eds) Medical Humanities, London, BMJ Books.
  • Elaine Powley and Roger Higson ; with David Powley and George Taylor (2005) The arts in Medical Education, Oxford, Radcliffe

Key readings:

  • Brody, H (2011) Defining the Medical Humanities: Three Conceptions and Narratives J Med Humanit. 32: 1-7
  • Macnaughton, J, (2000) The humanities in medical education: context, outcomes and structures. Med Humanities (BMJ) 26:23-30
  • Charon, Rita, (2000) Literature and Medicine: Origins and Destinies. Ac Medicine, vol 75,1/Jan 2000
  • Ahlzen, R (2007) Medical humanities – arts and humanistic science, Medicine, Health Care & Philosophy (2007) 10: 385-393