Arts in Health (BETH5207)


The 'art of health' is more than an historic catchphrase; it is a literal phenomenon. Arts based approaches to health promotion, social determinants of health and to a range of health issues (including mental health, dementia and aging, disability, childhood development and cancer) can have stunningly powerful effects. In the past century the visual, literary and performing arts have emerged as vital components of a community based approach to human health and wellbeing. This unit gives students practical examples of how to incorporate the arts into public health and health care. It offers a rich and detailed exploration of varying debates in the scholarly and practice-based fields of arts-and-health, exploring areas including, but not limited to: the status and uses of art therapy; music, psychology and medicine; expressive writing and health; hospital art, design and architecture; creative arts in aged and dementia care, mental health, death and dying, childhood illness, community development, and responses to trauma; and the ethical role of creative arts in social marketing, public health campaigns and in healthcare institutions. Most learning occurs in the context of four compulsory teaching intensives, which are highly interactive and experiential, a critical feature for students wanting to grasp how the creative arts can bring change in health. In these intensives, students will be treated to guest lecturers who are experienced practitioners and national leaders in these areas.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Block mode, 2x2 full days; supported by weekly online learning requiring brief written responses to set readings.


Your best 2x300-400wd of your online tasks (15%), 1x1,500wd essay (25%), 1x2,500wd essay (50%), participation in class and in online discussion (10%)


Students are provided with a list of readings (in digital format). Most supplementary readings can be accessed through the library or online.

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.