Postgraduate Course: Contagion (PGSP11421)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||Infectious diseases have impacted human relations in profound and far reaching ways. Drawing on a range of pathogens, this course examines their historical, social and economic impact.
The aims of the course are for students to develop an understanding of the role of infectious disease in both history and social organization; to understand how infectious disease leads to a deeper appreciation of issues relating to globalization, international politics and global health; to be able to analyse these issues ¿ of infection, and its consequences - from an anthropological perspective.
Infectious diseases have had a profound impact on human history. In this course we take a broad historical approach to understanding the relationships between people and microbes. Drawing on the work of cultural historians, anthropologists, epidemiologists we take a wide-ranging cross disciplinary look at the phenomenon and the impact that infectious diseases have had on societies across the world. We shall look at the role of fear, migration, the state, globalisation and trade, the rise of magic bullets and antibiotics, the part of the laboratory and modern diagnostics, and art in both the way that infections have moulded culture, and our responses to this.
Indicative themes may include the following: How history and contagion are intertwined and the relationship between the two; migration, the state, and the impact of infectious disease control policies; the way art has responded to contagion, and the relationship to fear and anxiety in the face of death (for example from Goya to Romero); how eradication narratives have impacted on our relationship with microbes (eg smallpox); What has AIDS and tuberculosis taught us about the socio-political drivers of infection?; What role has the development and availability of antibiotics (the magic bullet) had in the rise of so-called 'super-bugs'; How have these organisms been identified, and what is the role of the laboratory in science and society; 'The coming plague' and what happens when bugs cross from animals to humans; What has been the impact of the Ebola crisis on international relations and our understanding of outbreaks?; How do pathogens fit into warfare and terror?
The course will involve lectures, followed by student presentations and discussion. A key aim will be the opportunity to share approaches to the subject - grounded in the students disciplinary training (be that historical, political or anthropological) - but with an emphasis on anthropological approaches to the issues.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||1. Formative Assessment. Students will be asked to write an essay, focusing on a contemporary infective issue (this could be Ebola, 'bird flu', HIV, etc. and the impact this has had on human relations. A range of websites will be made available for this purpose (eg the WHO, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) etc.). These will be marked and fed back during the course. The first summative assessment will be used to feedback to students on their understanding of analyses that lie outside for their disciplinary training and to allow focus for the final assessment. As the course is likely to draw on students from a range of disciplines, individual feedback will arranged to comment on their understanding of the issues that lie outside their particular training (for example anthropologists on epidemiology and basic medical concepts). 20% weighting will be given to the assessment of the project
2. Summative assessment (80%). A final essay will be selected from a range of questions set during the course. This essay will be handed in after the course will be marked and constitute 80% of the marks for the course. Marks will be given for drawing on the themes and issues across the course (ie it will need to be more than just focusing on the issues of one lecture), and for reading around the topic concerned as well as drawing on course readings.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Have a clear and critical understanding of the role of infectious disease in both history and social organization.
- Appreciate how infectious disease leads to a deeper understanding of issues relating to globalization, international politics and global health.
- Able to critically analyse these issues ¿ of infection, and its consequences - from an anthropological perspective.
- To develop an understanding of infectious diseases from perspectives not directly related to their core disciplinary training, for example historical dimension for anthropologists, or anthropological analyses for medical students.
- To learn from each other on the key disciplinary issues from which students draw (for example, medicine and anthropology).
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|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Prof Ian Harper
Tel: (0131 6)50 3816
|Course secretary||Ms Emilia Czatkowska
Tel: (0131 6)51 3244