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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC3315 History of the Body

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Adrian Wilson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Western medicine in 1700, and even in 1760, was still tied to its ancient foundations; but thereafter it witnessed a series of dramatic transformations, involving new practices, technologies and ideas, not least new ideas about the body. This module will explore those developments selectively, focusing on one of the specific themes listed below, and laying a major emphasis on primary sources. There are no pre-requisites; the course is suitable both for HPS students and for students in other disciplines, and indeed it has been taken in the past by students from many different departments in both the arts and the sciences.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Relate interpretations of the body to the relations of authority between doctor and patient and to the institutional settings of medical practice;
2. distinguish the rival interpretations of the body which have characterised Western medicine in its historical development;
3. grasp and articulate the transformation of Western medicine from the Renaissance to the birth of modern medicine;
4. interpret primary sources relevant to the history of medicine;
5. critically assess the relevant historiography.


This module examines the post-Renaissance origins of modern Western medicine, concentrating on such themes as:
The eighteenth-century foundations of what Foucault called the “birth of the clinic”
The roles of education, technology and theory in laying the foundations of modern medicine during the long eighteenth century
Competing perspectives on the body in Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment culture and medicine
Representations of the body and disability in 18th- and 19th-century medicine, art and literature

Teaching methods

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

Private study

Lecture Follow-up: 10 x 3 hours = 30
Tutorial Preparation: 9 x 6 hours = 54
Tutorial follow-up: 9 x 2 hours = 18
Preparation for mid-semester assessment: 20 hours
Essay Preparation & Writing: 58 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The mid-semester assessment will be formative as well as summative.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1000 words (mid semester)25.00
Essay3000 words (end of module)75.00
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: 10/05/2023 15:12:08


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