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HIS3334 : Talking Cures and Troubles: An Oral History of Health and Medicine in Britain, c. 1948 - 2000 (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Graham Smith
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Particular attention will be paid to the following objectives:
• Evaluation of the historical significance of oral histories narrating the history of medicine in Britain under the National Health Service (NHS) through the close analysis of a set of archived oral histories c. 1 long, life history interviews or 3-5 topical interviews from medicine and health dependent on availability, but, for example: patients’ oral histories could include thalidomide, diabetes, mental health and palliative care, while professionals could include surgery, medical science, nursing and General Practice.
• Introduction of students to the historiography of, and key elements in the history of the NHS.
• Exploring histories of particular patient and professional groups.
• Introducing students to methodological debates in the reuse of oral histories of medicine and how oral history sources can be employed by historians.
• Developing an understanding of the opportunities and challenges of reusing oral histories alongside other secondary and primary sources.
• Allowing students to develop the ability to listen, read, analyse and reuse oral history recordings, transcripts and summaries, with an emphasis on the critical skills required for the analysis of oral sources, narratives and memories.
• Developing students’ capacity for independent learning and research.

Outline Of Syllabus

The course will explore the way health professionals and patients have remembered the history of medicine and health care provision under the NHS.
Topics might include: the development clinical specialities; administration, management and managerialism;, the emergence of patient stories (including cancer stories), the rise of health consumerism; changes in public health and health promotion (with particular reference to morbidity and co-morbidity); the shifting division of British medicine; the rise of primary care and/or surveillance medicine; changing perceptions of the patient body and mind; health scares and crises; ethnicity, care, provision and receipt; medical harm and iatrogenic illness; and the history of individual medical institutions.

In addition to using texts discussing the theories of remembering (narrating memory) in oral history and the history of the NHS, the course will utilise a wide range of oral history sources including collections of interviews available through digital archives (e.g. Wellcome Trust, British Library Sound Archive, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Archives, DIPEx, Hospice Oral History Archive). Students will not be collecting, but reusing, oral histories.

While the history of the NHS will be taught, students will be guided to research a profession or set of patient experiences in more depth and within that wider context. Similarly, while oral history analytical approaches will be taught, students will be expected to appropriately apply these in their work.

Teaching will be in two blocks. The first on the history of the NHS, the second on the use of oral; history sources in the historical context of the NHS.

Assessment will be by oral presentation and essays.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion382:0076:00This includes support for making online presentations
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities541:0054:00online materials including discussion boards
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study521:0052:00guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesScheduled on-line contact time181:0018:00Online small group and online presentations
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Independent learning and communication are at the heart of this module. Students are expected to develop listening skills, oral source evaluation as well as critical reading and note-taking in an independent and effective manner. Seminar teaching complements these skills by allowing students the opportunity to present, share and debate information gathered independently. Oral skills of argument and online presentation will be developed. Moreover, a significant part of seminar teaching will test the development of primary source analysis with an emphasis on oral history, including memory and history.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation102M10Online 10 minutes with a maximum of 10 slides
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A452000 words
Essay2M452000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress. The essay and report tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research, reading and writing.

The online oral presentation is specifically designed to encourage the students to develop, and to test, skills that will be invaluable when it comes to applying for and engaging in a career.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.
All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange 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