What are the Medical Humanities?

The Medical Humanities complement, contextualize and critique purely biomedical, technological or other reductive accounts of what it means to experience illness, encounter disease or transact a therapeutic relationship. In addressing how we comprehend health, sickness, disease and “the embodied life”, such concerns are examined from a range of professional and patient perspectives.

Who we are

The Medical Humanities Research Centre (MHRC) is based in the School of Critical Studies, but functions across the College of Arts and the College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences and in close liaison with the College of Social Sciences.

The MHRC is co-directed by Dr David Shuttleton and Dr Gavin Miller.

The MHRC is advised by a committee drawn from various Schools and subject areas across the University. The current members are: Professor Sally Wyke (Institute of Health and Wellbeing), Professor Sam Cohn (History), Dr David Bain (Philosophy), Professor Jeremy Smith (Critical Studies; ex officio), Dr Sheila Dickson (German), Professor Malcolm Nicolson (Centre for the History of Medicine), Dr Christine Ferguson (English Literature), Professor Marek Dominiczak (Medical Humanities Unit), Ms Barbara Gulliver (Art in Hospital), Dr Sabine Wieber (History of Art).

As an international centre for medical research Glasgow has long played a significant role in the emergence of Medical Humanities; breakthrough publications by Sir Kenneth Calman (our current Chancellor) and Prof. Emeritus R. S. Downie remain foundational studies. A wide range of Medical Humanities research, including some major externally funded projects, is currently being undertaken across Glasgow University. In this context we see the MHRC as offering a fresh framework upon which to deepen and expand internationally significant research

Externally Funded Research and Activities

The MHRC has a strong track record in attracting funding to the School of Critical Studies. The MHRC also assists in the development of applications by other Schools of the University. Amongst current and past externally funded projects held or hosted by Critical Studies specifically are:

1) AHRC Research Grant, “The Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh” (Dr David Shuttleton). £561,874.
2) Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Network Award, “Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland” (Dr David Shuttleton, Dr Gavin Miller). £9,623.
3) Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship, “The Medical Blackwoodians and Medico-literary Synergy in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press” (Dr Megan Coyer). £132,151.
4) AHRC Exploratory Award under the Science in Culture Theme, “Debating the first principles of Transcultural Psychiatry” (Dr Gavin Miller). £8,570.
5) Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Workshop Award, "Scottish Health Humanities Seminar and Masterclass Series" (Dr Gavin Miller, Dr Alette Willis). £4,150.
6) Carnegie Trust Small Research Grant, "Psychiatry in the Book Market: Writing on Psychiatry and Mental Health for Penguin (1945-1985)" (Dr Gavin Miller). £550.
7) Wellcome Trust Medical History and Humanities Small Grant, "'Attentive Writers': Healthcare, Authorship, and Authority" (PI: Megan Coyer; Co-Is Dr David Shuttleton, Dr Gavin Miller, Dr Elizabeth Reeder). £5,000.
8) RSE Arts & Humanities Small Grants, "DSM-5 and the Future of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Perspectives from Medical Humanities" (Dr Gavin Miller). £668.
9) Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Small Grant, "Speaking the Unspeakable:  exploring the role of visual art in the expression and communication of obstetric and gynaecological health, from William Hunter’s The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus, to the present" (Dr Jac Saorsa, Independent Scholar and Visiting Fellow in SCS). £6,692.
10) Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Small Grant, "David Stafford-Clark (1916-1999): Portrait of a Media Psychiatrist" (Dr Gavin Miller). £2,208.
11) Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Small Grant, "Glasgow University Medical Humanities Network Website" (Dr Megan Coyer). £6,615.
12) Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Small Grant, "Masters of Healing: Cocaine and the Idealised Image of the Victorian Doctor" (Dr Douglas Small). £677.
13) Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Seed Award, "Science Fiction and the Medical Humanities" (Dr Gavin Miller). £39,614.
14) Wellcome Trust Research Resources Research Bursary, "‘All Our Words are Misleading’: R. D. Laing, Language and Healing" (Dr Adrian Chapman, English Department, Florida State University, London Centre, and Visiting Fellow in SCS). £21,752.
15) Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Small Grant, "Dissecting the Page: Medical Paratexts Conference" (Dr Hannah Tweed, Dr Diane Scott and Dr Johanna Green). £1,535.

We are keen to foster further externally funded medical humanities research, including postdoctoral and doctoral awards. Please email either of the Directors, Dr Gavin Miller or Dr David Shuttleton, in this regard.

Research Development

Our Discussion Group is one of a variety of research development activities intended to foster new and collaborative research.

Visiting Fellows

The MHRC regularly hosts Visiting Fellows, who pursue their research as Affiliated Scholars in the School of Critical Studies, or elsewhere in the College of Arts. If you are interested in becoming a Visiting Fellow, please email either of the Directors, Dr Gavin Miller or Dr David Shuttleton, in this regard.


The MHRC supports and encourages teaching in the medical humanities, including Student Selected Components for medical students, an Intercalated BSc in the Medical Humanities, and undergraduate courses.

Postgraduate research

The MHRC currently hosts a number of PhD research students in the School of Critical Studies. If you are interested in pursuing postgraduate study in the medical humanites, please email either of the Directors, Dr Gavin Miller or Dr David Shuttleton, in this regard. You should also consult the College of Arts pages on postgraduate study for further information on applications and timing.

Mailing list

Do you want to subscribe to the Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland mailing list?
Just send an email to Majordomo@gla.ac.uk with the following command in the body of the message:
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