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Unit information: Death, Doctors and Disease (Lecture Response Unit) in 2015/16

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Unit name Death, Doctors and Disease (Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HISTM0046
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Victoria Bates
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This Lecture Response Unit will examine the history of medicine and health in modern Britain. It will consider issues such as the history of infectious disease, from TB to AIDS, and the emergence of chronic 'diseases of modern life'. This unit will also examine particular sub-fields of the medical profession, such as psychiatry, and will examine medicine in different contexts, such as war and empire. It will pay attention both to the history of medicine 'from above', including the emergence of the NHS, and to recent efforts to write histories 'from below' that examine patients' experiences and narrative of illness. Overall, in this unit we will study a range of aspects of medicine and health to re-evaluate narratives of 'progress' and to question whether medical advances have been inherently beneficial for mankind.

Intended learning outcomes

  1. To give students a thorough understanding of the modern history of medicine and health in Britain, and the contested issues surrounding their interpretation.
  2. To improve students’ ability to argue effectively and at length (including an ability to cope with complexities and to describe and deploy these effectively).
  3. To be able to display high level skills in selecting, applying, interpreting and organising information, including evidence of a high level of bibliographical control.
  4. To develop the ability of students to evaluate and/or challenge current scholarly thinking.
  5. To foster student’s capacity to take a critical stance towards scholarly processes involved in arriving at historical knowledge and/or relevant secondary literature.
  6. To be able to demonstrate an understanding of concepts and an ability to conceptualise.
  7. To develop students’ capacity for independent research.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 5000 words (100%). This will assess ILOs 1-7.

Reading and References

  • Burnham, John, What is Medical History? (Cambridge, 2005).
  • Cooter, Roger, and John V. Pickstone (eds.), Medicine in the Twentieth Century (Amsterdam, 2000).
  • Hardy, Anne, Health and Medicine in Britain Since 1860 (London, 2001). Jackson, Mark, (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (Oxford, 2011).
  • Pickstone, John V., Ways of Knowing: A New History of Science, Technology and Medicine (Manchester, 2000).
  • Porter, Roy, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (London, 1997).