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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC1080 History of Modern Medicine

10 creditsClass Size: 150

Module manager: Dr Adrian Wilson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is mutually exclusive with


This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

What was it like to visit a Victorian hospital? How did doctors explain and treat illnesses in the past? How have things like wars, businesses, empires and political debates affected medical practices? This module answers these questions as it introduces students to the history of modern medicine, providing an overview of developments in the professionalization, specialization and industrialisation of medicine over the last 200 years.


To examine key events in the history of medicine, and to understand how these have contributed to the modern medical practices we recognise today.
To become familiar with a range of authors in medical history, and the theoretical and ethical criticisms they have made of medicine over the previous two centuries.
To investigate the heritage of medicine, and to recognise how material objects can be used to explore history.

Learning outcomes
Understanding of the ways in which various medical practices have developed over the last 200 years, and of how the medical profession we now observe is the product of multiple people, ideas and contexts throughout history.
Engagement with popular and academic writers on medical history, and a critical awareness of the issues and problems identified with the ‘progress’ of modern medicine.
Appreciation of the role of heritage in the history of medicine, and experience in researching and writing about medical objects, institutions and people.

Skills outcomes
An understanding of the way medical and scientific knowledge is contingent and socially embedded, and how this can be uncovered through the methodological approaches of historians of science, technology and medicine.


In each week, lectures in the module will engage with a new topic or branch in medicine. These are thematic, but also chronologically arranged, building up a fuller picture of how medicine has developed. With each lecture a key theorist and reading related to the particular topic will be introduced, and a new object presented.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours84.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Lecture revision: 11 x 1 = 11 hours
Lecture readings: 10 x 1 = 10 hours
Preparation for tutorials: 5 x 3 = 15 hours
Report preparation and writing: 48 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have the opportunity to submit a 500 word essay plan connected to their chosen report topic. Students will receive verbal comments on their understanding and progress in tutorials, and be able to visit staff during office hours or arranged meetings throughout the semester.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Report1500-word Project Report (end of module)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 29/04/2022 15:26:26


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