I joined the MSc Biosocial Medical Anthropology after working for two years at a small education charity in London. I had really enjoyed studying anthropology at undergraduate, particularly as my course had offered modules in both social and biological anthropology. I found the point of interaction between the sub-disciplines really interesting, and was keen to learn more.
The course has proved to be fascinating and fun, and it has really challenged me to explore how the biological, the environmental, and the social combine and interact to impact health and wellbeing. The first term we were learning alongside other students from across the department, which provided interesting perspectives on the content and helped highlight areas of debate and discussion. Each week we had a lecturer who discussed an area relevant to their own research, for example developmental plasticity, evolutionary medicine, and the health impacts of inequality. Each topic shed light on the benefits and opportunities of taking a biosocial perspective to understand the patterns and consequences of health and disease, particularly when considering health inequality.
In the second term we discussed topics such as the body and the city and examined global health policies. We also took a trip to the Wellcome Collection to explore their exhibit on health and the built environment. As our final piece of work, we were asked to put together a research proposal for an imagined project incorporating what we had learned over the year. Drawing on my undergraduate year abroad and discussions about the interaction between environmental concerns and health, my project was aimed at looking the effects of climate change on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians, a population already impacted by inequality and colonial histories. This project was a great opportunity to test out how to apply a biosocial perspective to a research project, as well as a chance to go deeper on a region and topic which really interests me.
Alongside the main course, I also took modules in Anthropological Demography, and the Anthropology of Science, Society, and Biomedicine. These courses really complimented what we covered on the core course and I got to meet lots of interesting people from across the department. The discussion in each of the sessions for these modules often incorporated perspectives from around the world, and generated some amazing conversations which added so much to the material. They were also a great opportunity to explore outside the core course focus. For example, I wrote essays on contraceptive choices around the world, pro-natal policies in Singapore, and the role of potential in bioprospecting. While each of these allowed me to both utilise a biosocial perspective and learn relevant theories and methodologies, they have also widened my perspective and enriched my time at UCL.
As for next steps, I have been lucky enough to be offered a studentship on the Soc-B PhD training programme. Soc-B is an interdisciplinary programme at UCL and the Universities of Essex and Manchester. I am really excited to be continuing my journey into biosocial research, and the interdisciplinary training and experience I have received over the last year has been instrumental in my being able to take this amazing opportunity.
MSc Biosocial Medical Anthropology has been a fantastic experience and a great opportunity to explore more intensely an approach to health and the body that I find engaging and fascinating.