Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Cultural, Social and Biological Determinants of Mental Health MED5268

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Health and Wellbeing
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will explore how the manifestation of mental health difficulties can vary across time and cultures. The course will also critically discuss attempts to identify biological mechanisms underlying mental health difficulties and the interplay that these mechanisms might have with social factors.


This course takes place over 10 teaching weeks in semester 1.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





Two components of written assessment:


■ Essay 50% (2000 words approx.) (ILOs 1 & 2) 

■ Blog post 50% (1000 words approx.) ILOs (3, 4, 5)

Course Aims

This course aims to explore how the manifestation of mental health and mental ill health can change across time and cultures. This course aims to develop an understanding of the importance of resilience and aims to discuss the links between culture, social and economic factors and mental health. Finally this course aims to enable students to develop an understanding of the biological mechanisms implicated in mental illness.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Critically evaluate the various models of care and treatment for mental health difficulties such as the biopsychosocial model.


■ Critically discuss the underlying determinants of health including: culture, poverty and substance misuse.


■ Critically discuss the concept of resilience, consider its cultural aspects and the implications it has for mental health promotion and prevention.


■ Critically discuss the impact of poverty, violence (including gender-based violence), war, migration and disaster on mental health.


■ Critically discuss current diagnostic challenges within mental health and evaluate the potential role of biomarkers in diagnosing mental health difficulties in a global context.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

 Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.