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The Course Organiser for SECHI is Dr Robbie Duschinsky in the Primary Care Unit. The Ethics component of the course is run by Dr Zoe Fritz. Detailed lecture outlines, topics for supervisions and suggested reading are available on the SECHI Moodle site. Please ensure you have your Raven password to access this resource.

Aims of the Course

The course is an introduction to the perspective of medical practice, working with patients and colleagues, both in hospital and in the community. All the lectures relate to the practice of medicine in Britain. The topics are driven by developing an awareness of what patients really bring to the medical encounter - their expectations and thoughts about their health, and possibilities of health care to help them. These expectations are influenced by broader issues relating to gender, age, ethnic and cultural background, and what they can and cannot afford to do to help their health. The course aims to address objectives outlined in Outcomes for Graduates.

Structure of the Course

The course consists of fourteen lecture sessions. The topics covered relate to how different people think about health, how they choose their pathways to care, and the extent to which they co-operate with treatment. Lectures include:


  • Health inequalities
  • Chronic illness & stigma 
  • Implicit bias
  • Relationships and patient social support
  • The social context of patient communication


  • How do we do ethics? 
  • Issues at the end of life 
  • Issues at the beginning of life
  • Fairness in healthcare
  • Patient autonomy and consent

Four of the lecture sessions will bring together professional and patient perspectives in light of these debates and issues.

Students submit 2 essays as coursework, with one question addressing social context and the other addressing medical ethics. Each question will carry equal marks.

The Social and Ethical Context of Health and Illness is a 2nd MB examination, which students must pass before they proceed to The Clinical School.


The SECHI supervisions are also sometimes called seminars, for example in the online timetable. Please ensure you know which group you belong to and where and when your supervisions will take place. All supervisions are compulsory and each student must attend their set group organised by the Faculty.

  • There will be three "social context" seminar-style supervisions in Michaelmas Term.
  • There will be three "ethical context" seminar-style supervisions in Lent Term. The second of these supervisions will incorporate general revision on planning an essay.

Reading List

Some suggested reading that will help you prepare for and increase your knowledge of SECHI:

  • Sarah Nettleton (2013) The Sociology of Health and Illness, 3rd edition, Cambridge: Polity Press
  • William Cockerham (2012) Social Causes of Health and Disease, 2nd edition, Cambridge: Polity Press
  • Anne Rogers and David Pilgrim (2014) Sociology of Mental Health and Illness, 5th edition, Maidenhead: Open University Press