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Body, Mind and Medicine: A Dissection (UNIB20013)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5Not available in 2019

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Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeUNIB20013
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This interdisciplinary subject will explore the dynamic and shifting relationship between body and mind in medical theory and practice. We will look at the triumphs and tragedies of medicine – the spectacular therapeutic breakthroughs of vaccines and antibiotics, and the disturbing ethical low points of human experimentation by the NAZIs and others. We will explores the lives of the heroes and villains of this story. Underlying the narrative will be three themes: the complex and evolving relationship between body and mind in all forms of disease, culminating in the contemporary world of the neurosciences; the emergence of the twin pillars of modern medicine, the biopsychosocial model and evidence-based medicine; and the development of a coherent ethical system designed to protect patients and practitioners. It is a disturbing and yet hopeful story that provides essential insights into the biomedical universe. It is not only recommended for those who aspire to become medical practitioners, but also for the rest of us who are likely to be their patients.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who complete this subject will:

  • understand and identify different ways of knowing the body and mind in sickness and health across the disciplines of Medicine, Surgery and Psychiatry, Historical Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and the Social Sciences;
  • identify, synthesise and analyse arguments about bodies and minds in sickness and in health;
  • create effective arguments, backed up by convincing evidence, about the historical and contemporary relationship between bodies and minds in sickness and in health;
  • develop research skills, demonstrating the ability to search for relevant materials in the library's and other digital databases;
  • develop effective communication, presentation (written and oral) and organisational skills;
  • develop the ability to collaborate constructively inside and outside the classroom;
  • demonstrate ethical integrity in written work and classroom activities, including a deep ethical engagement with issues around bodies and minds in sickness and in health.

Generic skills

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • A 1200 word short critical analysis of the 'sick man thesis', due at the end of week 5 (30%)
  • A group collaboration on medical scandals, 800 word equivalent, due at the end of week 12 (20%)
  • A 2000 word review essay of a relevant film, book, article or equivalent, due in the examination period (50%).

Hurdle requirement:

  • Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Dates & times

Not available in 2019

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Subject readings will be available online.

  • Subject notes

    This subject together with UNIB10003 (Ecological History of Humanity) and UNIB30005 (Living Longer, a global diagnosis) form a recommended medical humanities stream for Medical students.

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 18 July 2019