MBCHB 311A/B : Medical Humanities

Medical and Health Sciences

2023 Semester One (1233) / Semester Two (1235) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A variety of options from the study of medical humanities.

Course Overview

MBChB 311 provides medical students with the opportunity to study medical issues from the point of view of a humanities discipline. To that end you are offered a choice of courses from a variety of humanities specialities. This programme not only provides you with an alternative perspective on medicine, it also provides the opportunity to understand how different disciplines tackle the issue of scholarship. Whereas excellence in science is informed by rigorous research methodology, in the humanities the criterion for excellence is in the critical analysis and development of ideas. Thus the study of issues relevant to medicine, but embedded in the context of the humanities, can present an additional and important context, not only for the practice of medicine, but also for thinking about the nature of medical problems.

Course Requirements

To complete this course students must enrol in MBCHB 311 A and B

Course Contacts

Assoc Prof Susan Bull (susan.bull@auckland.ac.nz)

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify what constitutes scholarship or excellence in the discipline they have studied. (Capability 1.1)
  2. Define the differences between excellence in the Arts and excellence in Science or Medicine. (Capability 1.1, 3.1 and 5.1)
  3. Evaluate the strength of an argument in the discipline studied. (Capability 1.1 and 5.1)
  4. Demonstrate their developing critical thinking, analytical and presentation skills by presenting and defending their own ideas in oral debate; at the same time giving others’ ideas a fair, dispassionate and considered hearing. (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.3, 4.2, 4.4, 5.1 and 5.3)
  5. Write a well-structured, carefully reasoned essay, fully referenced and putting forward a specific point of view, supported by both reading and original thinking. (Capability 1.1, 1.2 and 4.4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Research essay 35% Individual Coursework
Critical review 30% Individual Coursework
Participation and Attendance 10% Individual Coursework
Seminar 25% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Research essay
Critical review
Participation and Attendance

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures, 3-5 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 1-2 hours of work on assignment preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience & Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities, including class discussions, to complete components of the course.

The course may include live online events, including small group activities and class discussions.

The activities for the course are scheduled in a weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.


Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.