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Certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine

Overview of the Certificate Program

The undergraduate program in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine is designed to offer a group of related courses in the areas of medical ethics, the nature of explanation and evidence in the biomedical sciences, and social problems such as assessments of alternative forms of health care delivery. The program is likely to be of particular interest to pre-medical and pre-professional health care students, but is intended to appeal to all students interested in social and philosophical problems in the biomedical sciences.

Students interested in obtaining the the undergraduate certificate should apply as early in their course work as possible. Normally, satisfactory completion of one course in the two-term core sequence, History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) 0612 or 0613, is required for admission into the certificate program. Applications can be secured from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

Application Information

You can download the application form and return it to the department via campus mail or in person at the office (1017 Cathedral of Learning). Download Printable Application form in:


  • The two introductory core courses (HPS 0612 and 0613) in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine.
  • A two-term college-level course in biology.
  • Two additional courses in a variety of departments dealing with social and conceptual issues in the biomedical sciences. The two elective courses must be in different departments.
  • Students must achieve at least a C grade in each of the required courses, and at least a C+ average in the overall certificate requirements.

Core Courses from the History and Philosophy of Science Department

  • HPS 0612 Mind and Medicine 3 Credits

This course focuses on questions of the aims of medicine, its scientific status and its relation to the natural sciences. These questions are pursued in the context of psychiatry, neurology, genetics, and the process of physical diagnosis.

  • HPS 0613 Morality and Medicine 3 Credits

This course is an introduction to the ethical, legal, and social problems which are part of the modern practice of medicine. It begins with a brief introduction to various types of moral theories (e.g., Kantian, Utilitarian, Naturalistic) followed by discussions of truth-telling in medicine, informed consent, euthanasia, abortion, and the relation between political systems and health care. The focus throughout will be on the role of moral values in medical treatment.

Important Certificate Information

  • All required courses must be completed with a "C" average or better. Pass/fail grades do not count.
  • IMPORTANT: Your two upper-level elective courses MUST be from two different departments.
  • The department will furnish a list of courses which satisfy the requirements in the "Other" or "Upper Level" category. It will be available online at the beginning of each registration period or by stopping in the office or phoning the department at 412-624-5896. 
  • If you require academic advising with respect to the required courses, please make an appointment to see Professor Paolo Palmieri, 1017 Cathedral of Learning,
  • Use CFMED as the Plan Code on your registration form to ensure proper credit on your final transcript.
  • During the first few weeks of your final term of your senior year fill out an additional application in the Arts and Sciences Dean's Office (140 Thackeray Hall). This will ensure the processing of the certificate information onto your transcript. If this process is not completed in a timely manner, a processing fee will be assessed by the Registrar.
  • It is your responsibility to bring a copy of your final transcript to the HPS Department for coursework/GPA verification of the six courses taken. If everything is correct we will then issue a certificate in your name to the permanent address listed on your original application.

Alternative Elective Courses to Satisfy the Conceptual Foundations Requirement

If you believe that there is a course that deals with the social and conceptual issues in the biomedical sciences, and that it should satisfy the elective requirement for the certification, you must:

  • Obtain the description of the course; 
  • Write a very short explanation of why the course ought to count toward satisfaction of the elective requirement, by showing how it deals with social or conceptual issues in the biomedical sciences; and 
  • Submit both to the Undergraduate Advisor for approval. 

The list of elective courses is not fixed, and so other courses well may be approved. However, they must have a major component that deals with social and conceptual issues of biomedicine. You must see Professor James G. Lennox for permission to use other courses. 

Approved Elective Courses for Summer Term, 2018 (2187)

Women of Africa and African Diaspora AFRCNA 1309/20591 (6WK-1)

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/10729 (6WK-1)

Human Sexuality in Cross Culture ANTH 0768/10730 (6WK-1)

Health, Nutrition & Population ANTH 1713/16840 (6WK-2)

Social Health Issues East Africa ANTH 1725/14511 (4WK-2)

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/10371 (6WK-2)

History of Medicine & Health Care HIST 1090/19571 (6WK-1)

History of Medicine & Health Care HIST 1190/20494 (6WK-2)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/10519 (6WK-1)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/17888 (6WK-2)

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/18816 (Summer Term)

Psychological Aspect of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/19487 (Summer Term)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10609 (6WK-1)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10311 (6WK-2)

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/18350 (Summer Term)

Health Psychology PSY 1215/19485 (Summer Term)

Introduction to Public and Global Health PUBHLT 1003/17436 (12 Weeks)

Public Health Explorations PUBHLT 1004/17437 (12 Weeks)

Public Health Research and Practice PUBHLT 1005/17438 (12 Weeks)

Sociology of Gender SOC 0446/17664 (6WK-1)

Medical Sociology SOC 0447/19239 (12 Weeks)

History of Medicine & Health Care SOC 1488/20632 (6WK-2)



Approved Elective Courses for Fall Term (2018) (2191)

Global Diaspora AFRCNA 1201/26104

African American Health Issues AFRCNA 1710/11543

The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/29910

Culture and Politics in Mental Health ANTH 1722/30529

Anthropology of Food ANTH 1752/25039

Patients & Healers: Medical Anthropology ANTH 1761/25378

Societal, Political & Ethical Issues in Biotech BIOENG 1241/19724

Issues in Health Care-EM 1152/14400

Issues in Health Care Education-EM 1153/14833

Environmental, Ethics, Science & Public Policy-GEOL 1055/26451

Disease, & Health in Modern Africa HIST 1725/29674

Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/10975, 25351, 25531

Health and Policy in United States PS 1262/16200 & 30273

Topics in Clinical Psychology PSY 1052/26557

Abnormal Psychology PSY 1205/10478, 11172, 17904 & 24073

Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY 1210/11367, 26240 & 29896

Health Psychology PSY 1215/11492, 26029 & 26623

Introduction to Global Health PUBHLT 1001/19227

Health, Law and Ethics PUBSRV 1305/24075, 26241

Issues in Health Care REHSCI 1240/14431

Psychology and Sociology of Disability REHSCI 1280/17338

Practical Issues in Disability REHSCI 1290/26511

Diversity Cultural Health/Rehabilitation REHSCI 1292/19056

Buddhism and Psychology RELGST 1558/26248

Deviance and Social Control SOC 0471/22986

Sociology of Globalization & Health SOC 0473/26197

Medical Sociology SOC 0477/23038, 24080 & 26242

Health and Illness SOC 1450/27430


These are the courses that maybe considered as electives for the Certificate Program.

You must see/or e-mail Dr. Paolo Palmieri: for permission to use other courses.

This list can also be found on our website at