History of Medicine (Online)
Focusing on the key turning points in the history of western medicine e.g. the advent of hospitals, the role of public health, the rise of biomedical research, this course offers insights into medicine’s past, asks what has shaped contemporary medicine and how do people study it.
By exploring five kinds of medicine – Bedside, Library, Hospital, Community and Laboratory – this course charts the shape and content of the history of western medicine from the Greeks to the present day. It looks at the role of doctors, patients, diseases and society’s reaction to them over time and asks how medicine, disease and health have been motors for change. The course encourages its participants to understand how contemporary medicine differs from but is indelibly marked by its past. By directed use of primary and secondary sources it introduces participants to the methods and tools of research in the history of medicine and encourages the critical analysis of differing historical interpretations, including the participant’s own.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
1. Getting to Grips with the History of Medicine and Introducing the Kinds of Medicine
2. Medicine at the Bedside and in the Library
3. Medicine in the Hospital
4. Medicine in the Community and the Laboratory
5. Medicine in the Modern World
We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following book:
Bynum, W. The History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, Oxford, 2008) .
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
EU Fee: £132.00
Non-EU Fee: £155.00
Dr Helen Bynum
Helen Bynum is a freelance historian of science and medicine. She was a Wellcome Award Lecturer at the University of Liverpool. She studied at UCL, Imperial College London and Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine.
This course introduces and studies the historical dimensions of western medicine, healing and health from the Greeks to the present day.
By the end of this course students will understand:
The overall development of the history of western medicine from the Greeks to the present day and appreciate what has driven the key turning points in this history.
They will have gained the following skills:
- critical use of a range of medically related primary sources, including images
- critical understanding of the role of historical practice in appreciating the history of medicine as a discipline
As this course is non-accredited it is not formally assessed. In order to complete this course and receive a statement of participation, you will need to demonstrate that you have actively taken part in the group activities and attempted the required individual activities. As a guideline, satisfactory participation will be considered as making a minimum of ten relevant contributions to the discussion forums during the course. Your contributions should be made in at least four of the five weekly sessions and each contribution should reflect that you have read, considered and understood the materials used in the course. Contributions to group activities should also demonstrate engagement with contributions made by other students to ensure effective and lively discussion.
Level and demands
FHEQ Level 4, 5 weeks, 10 hours/week, total 50 hours
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support