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Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare

University of Cape Town via FutureLearn


This free online course will explore the intersection of medicine, medical anthropology and the creative arts. Through each of its six weeks, we’ll visit a new aspect of human life and consider it from the perspectives of people working in health sciences, social sciences and the arts.

Explore the emerging field of medical humanities

The course will introduce you to the emerging field of medical humanities and the concept of whole person care, via these six themes:

  • The Heart of the Matter: A Matter of the Heart
  • Children’s Voices and Healing
  • Mind, Art and Play
  • Reproduction and Innovation
  • At the Edge: Madness and Medicine
  • Death and the Corpse

Together, we’ll question our propensity to separate the body from the mind in healthcare, consider what defines humanity, and share points of connection and difference between art and medicine.

Learn with specialists from diverse fields

Contributors to the course will include a psychologist, psychiatrist, heart surgeon, pathologist, oncologist, sociologist, poet and visual artist. They will pose critical questions about how we deal with health, healing and being human.

Each has been filmed on location in Cape Town, including at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, the Heart of Cape Town Museum, and the Pathology Learning Centre.

Develop and discuss your own ideas

The course will encourage you to discuss your ideas with learners all over the world, and reflect on the ways in which bodies, health, social life, culture and the imagination intersect in your local setting. Together, we’ll ask:

  • How is it that academic disciplines have become so rigid in their focus that they sometimes struggle to talk meaningfully to general audiences and other specialists?
  • And what potential can we unlock by combining different fields of expertise and the silos of knowledge that otherwise separate them?

By the end of the course, you’ll understand multiple, complex perspectives on health, illness and healing, and be able to create alternative responses to important health challenges.

You can find out more in Susan Levine and Steve Reid’s post for the FutureLearn blog: “Introducing medical humanities: a new, interdisciplinary approach to healthcare.”

This course is open to everyone. All that’s required is an interest in medicine, the arts or social sciences.

Taught by

Steve Reid and Susan Levine


4.9 rating, based on 100 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare

  • Anonymous
    I LOVED this course and its interdisciplinary approach. The only thing that I think is lacking is non-academic sources and more perspectives from patients and people. I think there were brief mentions where you do (like the perspective of the kids...
  • Profile image for Rajkumar Benny
    Rajkumar Benny

    Rajkumar Benny completed this course.

    This is exactly the kind of course that I've been looking for quite some time, and I'm glad to have found it with the help of the learning platform-'Futurelearn'. Since I'm doing a different degree altogether, I took this course out of pure interest and...
  • Anonymous
    This a beautifully structured course whereyou really feel you have been on a learning journey. I was fearful that this might be a course heavily dominated by the medical with just some arts stuff added in as "add ons", but no, it truly fulfils its...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    A new subject and approach for me. Very interesting and I hope the combination of the arts with conventional medical care as part of the treatment of long-term illness becomes widespread. I was especially interested because the course was presented by...
  • Michelle Watson
    As an Art Therapist, I found Cape Town Universities Medicine and The Art’s course thought provoking and inspiring. Humanising heath care through re imagining delivery models that enable us to positively effect individual patient outcomes is surely the aim of every single health care worker, no matter your field of expertise. This course not only inspired creative thinking but highlighted the importance of social connection and emotional well-being of only the patients but if the entire health care team.
  • Anonymous
    A great platform that allows for great engagement and brings together topics that are usually kept separate from one another. Being able to consider healing, the body, and the connection between medicine and the arts has really expanded my knowledge on these topics, giving me a greater hunger to learn about all the overlaps these disciplines have, as well as creating a space that facilitated not only my own healing but allowed for an understanding of others within the medical and artistic space.
  • Elazar completed this course.

    It was a heart-expanding experience of learning while walking.
    I have no doubt that I come out of the experience equipped with a broader perspective than I had with the beginning of the course. Perspective that makes me a better professional, but no less importantly, a better person.
    The learning experience only strengthened my sense of mission to convey the message to the various layers of human society in which I live.
    Mainly distribute it among professionals in the field of medicine in general, including those dealing with mental health ..
    Thank you all for the opportunity.
    It was a great privilege
  • Chrissie Loveday

    Chrissie Loveday completed this course.

    I would consider this course a gift for life in the sense of content and how thought provoking it is . I learnt a great deal about South Africa and its unique challenges and was mightily impressed by the commitment of the speakers on this course and their...
  • Jacqui

    Jacqui completed this course.

    I did this course totally out of personal interest and I absolutely loved it. The Future learn platform was really easy to navigate and user-friendly. The subject matter was diverse and totally interesting, with short mini lectures and reading material. I did all the reading but I did not do the assignments as I had too little time, but I do not think that should put anybody off. The online community was also wonderful and interesting. It is quite something to realize you are studying with people from all over the world. Highly recommended.
  • Anonymous
    This course was able to combine aspects of medicine and arts. It created an interdisciplinary space that allowed fresh eyes and perspectives on most concepts and topics that we are aware of but only through one lens. They created a stimulating way of learning. It helps with showing the possibilities that are presented by interdisciplinary work.
  • Anonymous
    This course was all I had hoped it would be and more, I especially found week 3 to be most fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed the "walking knowledge" I've gained and hope to use it moving forward. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found this a really good course. The approach is exciting, and is different from traditional approaches to medicine. It gives you a different way of seeing an area that we think we know. I have taken quite a lot of MOOCs, mainly free ones, as I am at...
  • Anonymous
    Excellent! what a journey! such incredible and knowledgable people. up-to-date literature, and very, very interesting themes.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I had been very curious about this perspective ofstudy which I think will be very useful, as it is already to rethink and build up a future in some countries if not all. I am amazed of how a suspicion, veri intuitive by my side was fully answered with comments, tasks, wonderful presentations and links. This has been one of the best thing I have explored and done during 2020's Covid quarantine. Congratulations to the UCT, and thank you very much, for opening this wonderful opportunity to public.
  • Anonymous
    I've finished this course and the six weeks raise a really interesting range of topics in the vast field of medicine. It's a great introduction and way of considering health and medicine from multiple perspectives and as importantly becoming able to be part of that discussion. This is core, inclusivity and equal participation in how we care, receive treatment, make decisions and so on is in itself transformative. The examples show very positive results from the approaches taken and can only promise a far healthier future for all!
  • Riley L
    This is exactly the kind of course that I've been looking for quite some time, and I'm glad to have found it with the help of the learning platform-'Futurelearn'. Since I'm doing a different degree altogether, I took this course out of pure interest and...
  • Anonymous
    Interesting and engaging course. Varied range of topics, which provoked refelction, and the links to resources were very useful. Good pace of course, and the differing modules were well selected. Peer reviews of the 2 assignments were helpful, though it was frustrating at the delay in getting one of the reviews, (took 4 weeks) , but it was ddone before rest of course completed, and was detailed.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Excellent. High quality, lots of different perspectives covered. This really stimulated my desire to learn more. A good reading list included.
  • Anonymous
    From the topic alone, MEDICINE AND THE ARTS, you know it's going to be an interesting course - traditionally polar opposites 'science' and 'art', yet the material somehow shows how a blend of these can promote healing and wellness through so many avenues. The...
  • Anonymous
    Through this course, specifically, the first half of it is truly inspiring, very thoughtful, and specifically made in simple ways to let your mind absorb the knowledge with ease and required pace. Learning through different fields and how they all form a network within and without. The course takes you through an experience where you learn and understand how art heals, and how knowledge is power. Art heals through expressing, understanding, and openness to new experiences, while through knowledge, science, medicine, and other fields of studying a certain experience specifically and simple explained to details is a power where one will be able to cope and adapt with challenging and surprising experiences through out life.

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