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Semester 1

History of Western Medicine (STIS08009)


Science, Technology and Innovation Studies





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Course Summary

A general introduction to the history of medicine in Western society from the Ancient Greeks to the present. It will examine some of the different ways that doctors have thought about health and illness over the past two and a half thousand years and will raise general questions about the historical origins of modern scientific medicine. The course will introduce the changing role of experts in society, historical shifts in concepts of the body and of disease, and the changing understanding and impact of epidemics from antiquity to the present day.

Course Description

History of Western Medicine is a free-standing, 20-credit, level 1 half course run by the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies subject group of the School of Social and Political Sciences. It is available to all students. History of Western Medicine does not presume any prior knowledge, either of history or of medicine. In the course, we will cover the changing role of medical practitioners and patients, will look at historically shifting concepts of the body and of disease and we will consider the impact of epidemics at different times. Towards the end, a series of thematic lectures will focus in particular on the extent and limits of scientific thinking, and on the relationship between scientific research and public policy in past and present medicine. Special attention will be paid to diagnostic and therapeutic practices associated with different systems of medical knowledge and how they were adapted to the particular social and historical environments in which they developed. **Indicative content: TOPIC 1: ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN MEDICINE; TOPIC 2: MEDIEVAL TO RENAISSANCE MEDICINE; TOPIC 3:FROM THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION TO EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY MEDICINE; TOPIC 4: NINETEENTH-CENTURY MEDICINE: SCIENCE, PRACTICE AND PROFESSIONALISATION; TOPIC 5: SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND MASS MEDICINE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY; TOPIC 6: THE POLITICS OF MODERN MEDICINE.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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