Syllabus for Sociology of Health and Medicine

Sociologi inom hälsa och medicin


  • 7.5 credits
  • Course code: 2SC135
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Sociology A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2017-03-08
  • Established by:
  • Revised: 2019-12-04
  • Revised by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: Autumn 2020
  • Entry requirements:

    A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university in sociology, social science, medicine, nursing, nutrition, or another area relevant to critical studies of health.

  • Responsible department: Department of Sociology

Decisions and guidelines

The course is given as a course within a programme and as a standalone course. The course will be given in English.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Outline socio-economic explanations for health inequalities in morbidity and mortality and describe how social divisions (including gender, diversity, disability, sexuality) influence health and health outcomes,
  • give a basic account of sociological theories of behaviour and interaction as applied to the doctor-patient relationship and critical approaches to health behaviours,
  • describe the importance of theories of embodiment in understanding suffering and disability,
  • discuss critical approaches to healthcare organisation drawing on a range of theoretical models, including medical imperialism, managerialism, consumerism and how such challenges have affected medical practice in various settings,
  • consider migration in the context of globalization and its implications for models of health in rich and poor settings, with worked examples such as medical tourism and the spread of new pathogens (such as swine and bird flu),
  • be able to assess critically the usefulness of social theory in published research that investigates a health problem using both quantitative and qualitative analytic approaches, and
  • be able to discuss the merits of social theory in the context of examining primary empirical material, of both qualitative and quantitative nature, in analysis exercises.


This course introduces sociological approaches to health, health care and medicine that have offered critical perspectives on understanding illness and suffering from subjective and structural perspectives.

There is an emphasis on understanding and comparing theoretical models of health, illness and healthcare so as to critically assess research. These theoretical approaches are emphasised for qualitative and quantitative approaches alike, and explore different forms of research (evaluation research, primary and secondary analysis, comparative research).

In addition to a range of theoretical approaches, different applications are covered, to show how theories such as embodiment are applicable across cultural and social settings.


The methods of instruction employed in this course include: standard teacher-led lectures; interactive lectures; seminars involving teacher-led analysis and critical thinking exercises; teacher-led computer labs; student-led presentations of the results of their own independent study. Active participation in seminars is always compulsory. Absence from compulsory seminars can only be compensated by written submissions to a minimal extent. If minimum attendance requirements are not met, the student will be referred to the next opportunity to participate in the course.

This course will use both teacher-led and interactive methods of instruction in seeking to show how theoretically informed understanding of health explains empirical problems of clinical and public health relevance.


Assessment is by written assignments and active participation in seminars and oral presentations. Submissions submitted after the deadline cannot be approved. In case of missed deadline, the student is referred to re-examination.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Autumn 2020

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

Preparatory reading

  • Bradby, Hannah Medical sociology : an introduction

    London: SAGE Publications, 2009

    Find in the library


  • Nettleton, Sarah The sociology of health and illness

    3. ed.: Cambridge: Polity, 2013

    Find in the library


Other course litterature

  • Bradby, Hannah Medicine, Health and Society: A Critical Sociology

    Sage Publications, 2012

    Find in the library

  • Wilkinson, Richard G.; Pickett, Kate The spirit level : why more equal societies almost always do better

    London: Allen Lane, 2009

    Find in the library

  • Parsons, Talcott The social system.

    Glencoe, Ill.: 1951

    Chapter X

    Find in the library

  • Frank, Arthur W. The wounded storyteller : body, illness, and ethics

    Second edition.: Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.

    Find in the library

  • Bourdieu, Pierre.; Nice, Richard. Outline of a Theory of Practice

    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977

    Chapter II

    Find in the library

  • Durkheim, Emile Suicide : a study in sociology

    Snowballpublishing, 2013

    Find in the library

  • Schelling, Thomas C. Micromotives and macrobehavior : with a new preface and the Nobel Lecture

    Rev. ed.: New York: W. W. Norton, cop. 2006

    Find in the library

  • Wasserman, Danuta; Wasserman, Camilla Oxford textbook of suicidology and suicide prevention : a global perspective

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, cop. 2009.

    pp. 139-147 - Ilkka Henrik Mäkinen

    Find in the library

  • Bruce, Nigel; Pope, Daniel; Stanistreet, Debbi Quantitative methods for health research : a practical interactive guide to epidemiology and statistics

    Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, c2008.

    Chapter II & III

    Find in the library

A selection of articles from international journals will be used.