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2016/17 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2220 The Body, Disease and Society in Europe, 1500-1750

20 creditsClass Size: 38

Module manager: Dr Alexandra Bamji

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

How did early modern Europeans understand the body and try to stay healthy? What was the impact of disease on individuals, families and states? This module examines understandings of the body and disease at a time in which the great pox spread throughout Europe and plague ravaged cities at frequent intervals. This was also a period marked by significant medical developments, with a growing interest in anatomy and new chemical medicines. This module will situate medical knowledge and practice within the wider social and cultural context. Religion is a central theme. The module considers how God's wrath was believed to cause disease; and examines discourses and images of saints, witches and monsters to reveal the prominence of concepts of purity and pollution. Approaches from cultural history and a wide range of sources will be used to draw out the links between ideas and experiences of disease and the body, and the interrelationship of medicine, religion and society.


On completion of this module, students will have:
- the ability to analyse and interpret early modern sources
- the ability to use written, visual and electronic resources relating to the early modern period
- the ability to construct well-supported historical arguments by way of essays and seminar presentations
- developed certain transferable skills (oral, organisational and interpersonal skills) through participating in group discussions


The module will cover the following topics:
- Medical theory
- Medical care
- Health and reproduction
- Morbidity and mortality
- Plague
- Pox, purity and pollution
- Public health
- Monsters, possession and mental illness
- Religious healing

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be monitored throughout the course on class participation and non assessed work which will be completed in preparation for seminars. Formal assessment will be monitored as detailed above.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,000 word assessed essay due by 12 noon on Monday of teaching week 830.00
Source AnalysisWritten primary source exercise10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 06/05/2015


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