School of History

Introduction to the History of Medicine - HI385

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Convenor 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Canterbury Autumn Certificate
Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of a degree
15 (7.5) inactive inactive active
Canterbury Spring Certificate
Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of a degree
15 (7.5) Prof U I D Schmidt inactive active inactive

The information below applies to the 2015-16 session


The module introduces students to a broad range of material and themes relevant to the history of medicine, highlighting changes and continuities in medical practice and theory as well as in medical institutions and professional conduct. The section on ancient medicine addresses the role of Greek writers such as Hippocrates and the Roman medical tradition as represented in the texts of Galen. The section on medieval medicine focuses on major epidemics, the origins of medical institutions, and the role of medical care and cure in the context of social and demographic changes. In particular, this section addresses the role of the Black Death and subsequent plagues, as well as the history of hospitals. The section on medicine and the natural world discusses the source of medical knowledge as derived from the natural world through diverse cultural, social and scientific practices. The section on health and climate highlights the historical links between disease, climate and environment, for example the emergence of theories of miasma, putrefaction and the ideas of “unhealthy climates”. The section on medicine and empire introduces the historical links between medicine and imperialism from the eighteenth century onwards. The section on early modern and modern medicine explores the development of psychiatry and the asylum system in the 18th century, the rise of the welfare state and new theories of biology and disease transmission in the 19th century. These will be linked to the development of medical ethics.


Contact hours
Total of 15 hours

Method of assessment

No information available

Preliminary reading

  • ARNOLD, D. - 'Warm Climates and Western Medicine' CONRAD, L. I.- 'The Western Medical Tradition' DRAYTON, R. - 'Nature's Government' GETZ F- M. - 'Medicine in the English Middle Ages' HARRISON, M. - 'Climates and Constitutions' SLACK, P. - 'The Impact of Plague in Tudor and Stuart England' JACKSON, R. - 'Doctors and Diseases in the Roman Empire' PORTER, R. - 'The Greatest Benefit to Mankind'. LOUDON, I. - 'Western Medicine: An Illustrated History'

Learning outcomes


No pre-requisites

School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

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Last Updated: 10/11/2011