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SHS8124 : Introduction to the History of Medicine

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Clare Hickman
  • Lecturer: Dr Lutz Sauerteig, Dr Jen Kain
  • Teaching Assistant: Ms Kyra Helberg
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of this module are:
•To provide students with an overview, at a more advanced level, of the main historical developments in the human responses and understanding of disease.
•To provide students with awareness, at a more advanced level, of the historical, social and cultural embeddedness of medicine through time.
•To introduce students thematically, and at a more advanced level, to the main methodological aspects and problems of the academic study of medical history.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is taught by way of case-studies illustrating the embeddedness of medicine in historical, social, cultural, legal, ethical, and philosophical contexts.

The chosen case-studies will stem from a range of different geographical locations and span a broad time period. They will also include a variety of approaches including emotional, environmental, art and political histories.

For a precise syllabus, see the module handbook and the Essential Module Information.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion801:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00Introduction to module
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading581:0058:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Tutorial/surgery
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study401:0040:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The course will be taught in the form of ten 2-hour sessions during semester 1. It will provide students with an introduction to the history of medicine from antiquity to the twenty first century which is however, not chronological but thematic and which will focus on the historical, social and cultural embeddedness of medicine through time. It will do this by concentrating on the relationship between medicine and other major aspects of human culture and society.

In teaching sessions, each topic will be illustrated by historical case studies chosen from different historical periods. Students will be set preparatory reading which they will be expected to discuss in the group seminars. This will be supported by an essay surgery with the module leader and further tutorials in office hours with members of the teaching team where necessary.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A1003,000 word essay (including footnotes, excluding bibliography)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1M1,000 word outline of essay for feedback ahead for final assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will be expected to submit a formative outline of their essay of 1,000 words and a summative essay of 3,000 words. This piece will test their ability to analyse historical documents and to grasp the methodological issues involved in the academic study of the history of medicine.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, and develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree unless they have compelling reasons not to do so. If this is the case, they are offered the alternative of writing one 3,000 word essay to be handed in by 12.00 p.m. of the Friday of the first week of the assessment period. This will replace all assessment work required of other students on the module. In order to take up this option, students need to discuss it with the Study Abroad Co-ordinator and their module leader, having checked with their home university that the new assessment will be accepted by them. The Study Abroad Co-ordinator will have the final say on such issues.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will require the provision of an alternative assessment before the end of semester 1 teaching. The alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 1,500 word essays in addition to the other coursework assessment. The essays should be set so as to assure full coverage of the course content.

Study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists