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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Economic and Social History

Undergraduate Course: Disease, Medicine and Society in Britain since 1750 (ECSH10106)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThis course will examine the forces - social, scientific and political - that have shaped medical thought and medical practice, the changing status of the medical profession and their evolving relationship with patients, and the experience of healthcare in Britain since c.1750. It will consider how the terms 'health' and 'disease' have been negotiated historically, and whose interests medicine has served.
Course description The course will introduce students to key debates and approaches in the social history of medicine, through in-depth analysis of this vibrant sub-discipline's scholarship in conjunction with a rich range of primary source materials (including hospital and asylum records, medical journals, patient letters, pathological specimens, health films and adverts, artwork and memorials). By examining the period from 1750 to the present, we can chart the 'rise' (and arguably 'fall') of a formal - and increasingly specialised - medical profession, and the increasing power they have wielded over many aspects of our daily lives, from birth to death. We will deconstruct their theories and approaches to consider what beliefs and values have shaped their use of the labels 'healthy', 'normal' and 'diseased', and the impact on patients.

Students will gain direct access to significant local archival collections - Lothian Health Services Archive, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh - as well as major digitisation projects undertaken by bodies such as the Science Museum and Wellcome Library. Assessments will develop skills in critical thinking and source analysis.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third-year level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  15
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 348 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Semester 1:
2,000 word primary source analysis (10%)
3,000 word historiographical essay (30%)

Semester 2:
2,000 word primary source analysis (20%)
5,000 word research essay, combining primary and secondary sources (40%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the social history of medicine within the British context;
  2. read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source materials;
  4. develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Virginia Berridge, Martin Gorsky and Alex Mold, Public Health in History (2011)

W.F. Bynum et al. (eds), The Western Medical Tradition, 1800-2000 (2006)

Roger Cooter and John Pickstone (eds), Companion to Medicine in the Twentieth Century (2003)

Mark Jackson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (2011)

Mark Jackson (ed.), The Routledge History of Disease (2016)

Mark S.R. Jenner and Patrick Wallis (eds), Medicine and the Market in England and its Colonies, 1450-1850 (2007)

N.D. Jewson, 'The Disappearance of the Sick-Man from Medical Cosmology, 1770- 1870', International Journal of Epidemiology, 38:3 (2009), 622-33

Christopher Lawrence. 'Incommunicable Knowledge: Science, Technology and the Clinical Art in Britain, 1850-1914', Journal of Contemporary History, 20:4 (1985), 503-20

Alex Mold, Making the Patient-Consumer: Patient Organisations and Health Consumerism in Britain (2015)

Charles Rosenberg and Janet Golden (eds), Framing Disease: Studies in Cultural History (1992)

Carsten Timmermann and Julie Anderson (eds), Devices and Designs: Medical Technologies in Historical Perspective (2014)

Keir Waddington, An Introduction to the Social History of Medicine: Europe since 1500 (2011)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The ability to think critically and reflectively about the primary and secondary sources studied, and the questions we consider in relation to those sources.

The ability to participate in debates about medical beliefs and practices both in the past and present, offering clear, cogent and supported arguments.

The ability to devise focused research questions and deliver answers through engagement with a varied body of source materials.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Gayle Davis
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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