MA History of Medicine
The MA is open to full-time and part-time students. The main aims of the course are to enable graduates to:
• understand current work in the history of medicine;
• obtain skills for essential work in the field;
• to conduct independent research in the field.
Availability: Full-time 1 year
The History of Medicine MA promotes knowledge of medical thought and practice in its social, cultural, economic, and intellectual contexts. It provides expert training for potential historians of medicine as well as for others interested in how medicine and biomedicine have been shaped and how, in turn, they have come to shape us.
Students will gain exposure to issues in the history of medicine, and achieve an awareness of the human experience in health, illness, disease, birth and death, together with an understanding of the complexities and ambiguities of medicine and the hard-won knowledge surrounding health, disease and medical treatment. Particular attention is paid to the brain sciences and to today's neurobiological turn.
The course will be of interest to those wishing to specialise in this area, with a background in medicine, in history, and in the social sciences and philosophy. It will also be of interest to those working in or retired from the heath services.
UCL has long enjoyed an international reputation as a world centre for the study of the history of medicine.
Located in Bloomsbury, the UCL Centre for the History of Medicine provides easy access to the Wellcome Library, with its unrivaled history of medicine collections, as well as to the British Library, University of London Library, and to many other significant collections all within easy reach.
For further details contact Prof. Roger Cooter at firstname.lastname@example.org
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. It consists of one compulsory core module, plus a number of optional modules, and a dissertation. Options are also available to students from the History of Science, Medicine and Technology with credit ratings of 15 or 30 credits.
Assessment is primarily by essays, except for the core course 'Historiography of Medicine' which also incorporates a three hour unseen exam.
Core Module (compulsory)
- HMEDG020 (30 credits) : Historiography of Medicine
Tutor: Professor Roger Cooter
This course surveys and samples some of the major currents affecting the writing of the history of medicine. History writing can be described as a form of thinking about the present conducted at the remove of the past. Historiography (the history of the writing of that history) is about ‘the how’ and ‘the why’ of that thinking – the ways in which it has changed its make-up over time. Thus this course treats the history of medicine as an object of study in itself, with histories, philosophies, epistemologies, and politics. Along the way many of the major topics in the history of medicine will be touched upon. The goal is to enable students to understand and evaluate historical scholarship in science and medicine, and to apply those insights and appreciations in their own historical writing. A further goal is to learn how to read critically, understanding how this practice differs from merely ‘criticizing’. Through team-work and presentations, the course is also intended to hone practical job-getting skills.
- HMEDG099 - (60 credits)
All candidates undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of approximately 10,000 - 15,000 words, the topic of which will be agreed in consultation with an appropriate tutor. The Summer Term will be devoted to working on the dissertation.
- HMEDG011 (30 credits) : Medicine and Society
Tutor: Dr Stephen Jacyna
This option explores the development of modern medicine, medicines, and medical practice in the context of demographic, social, economic and political change since 1800. Beginning with an examination of Thomas McKeown’s theory of the modern rise of population, it will include discussion of growing state involvement in the provision of health care, the shaping of the modern medical profession and medical institutions, the emergence of modern scientific medicine and public reaction to it, drug discovery and ensuing problems, the rise of the welfare state, changing relations between doctors and patients, and the ‘fall’ of modern medicine. The geographical focus will be on Britain, with reference to Western Europe and North America.
- HMEDG029 (30 credits): Brains, Nerves and Human
Nature in the Modern Era
Tutor: Dr Stephen Jacyna
We live in an era when increasingly ambitious claims are made about the potential of the neurosciences to understand and even to modify human nature. The course explores the historical roots of the notion that identifies self-hood with the condition of the human nervous system. It considers how the rise of this concept of personal identity impacted upon pre-existing philosophical and theological systems. It also touches on some manifestations of brain-centred notions of the self in contemporary culture.
Tutor: Dr Carole Reeves
This course explores literature at the intersection of history and philosophy of medicine. We will discuss in how far literary representations can reflect subjective experiences of illness and suffering, the view of patients and practitioners in different historical contexts, and the impact of science on understandings of the body. Readings for the course include not only novels but also other creative literary representations of medicine, such as short stories, plays and poetry.
Tutor: Dr Carole Reeves
This modules examines the ways in which deviant behaviour has been identified and controlled from the ancient world to the present. Topics include the witch hunts in Western Europe, the history of suicide, the rise of the asylum, mad monarchs, spies and visionaries, gendered madness, the nature of melancholy, criminal insanity and degeneration, the growth of the psychiatric profession, 'heroic' remedies and anti psychotics, war neurosis, ethnicity and mental illness, damaging the body, Freud, Jung, the anti psychiatry movement, the making of schizophrenia and the tensions between organic, analytical and sociological explanations of insanity.
Tutor: Stephanie Eichberg
The ‘medical cosmos’ of the early modern English world reflects historical changes and continuities in unique ways: diseases and remedies, patients and healers, knowledge and practice, scientific revolutions and ancient theories of the body - all these reflect the make-up of, and subtle shifts of meaning, in early modern society. This course will also discuss the task of historiography: is it a mere retelling of the past, or does it mirror the particular interests and concerns of our own medicalized modern world?
- HPSCGA20: (30 credits) Science, Technology and Medicine Across Medieval and Renaissance Worlds (Department of Science and Technology Studies, UCL)
Tutor: Dr William MacLehose
This course studies the transfer of scientific knowledge from the ancient Greco-Roman world to an Arabic context from the ninth century onward and a Western Christian context from the eleventh century to the eve of the Renaissance. We will examine how and why centres of learning, such as Alexandria and Baghdad or southern Italy and Spain, brought both continuity and change to the scientific tradition. By studying geography, astronomy, physiology, contagious diseases, and pharmacology, we will explore the ways in which Muslim, Jewish and Christian views of knowledge influenced each other in the formation of a scientific method and spirit of inquiry into the natural world based on a pagan past. How did the different sciences, such as medicine, geography, astrology, and mathematics, connect with each other and with philosophy and theology? We will also consider the Western spread of scientific knowledge out of the learned Latin-speaking world to a broader audience through translations into the European vernaculars.
- HPSCGA40 (15 credits): Science in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Science and Technology Studies, UCL)
Tutor: Dr John Agar
More science was done, and more scientists lived, in the twentieth century than in any other century of human history. Furthermore, there were major changes in the framing of ideas and organization of major disciplines. Physics, for example, grappled with the new ideas of quantum theory and relativity. The life sciences responded to genetics and molecular approaches to life science. Geology uncovered evidence for continental drift, while astronomy explored an expanding universe. These intellectual developments were intimately connected to social, economic, political and cultural trends and events, not least global conflicts, idealogical clashes and economic transformations. This course introduces and guides the student through accounts of these changed produced by historians and other commentators.
- PHILGA04 (15 credits) : Global Justice and Health (Philosophy Department, UCL)
Tutor: Dr James Wilson
This module explores contemporary debates in global justice, especially as applied to issues of international health inequalities. Topics include: international distributive justice; health equity; bioethics and public heath ethics; and the human right to health.
- CIHDG040 (15 credits): Anthropological Perspectives on Global Health (Institute of Global Health UCL)
Tutor: Dr Audry Post and Dr Rodney Reynolds
Medical anthropology exists in a creative tension between the positivism of biomedicine and the more interpretative perspectives of social anthropology. This module will introduce you to medical anthropology through a survey of classical and current issues, concepts and topics, with this tension as a central thread. The general aims of the course are to link illness experience with socio-political factors and to understand cultural influences on health and sickness in a variety of contexts around the world.
- HISTG012 (15 credits): Classical Chinese Medicine (History Department UCL)
Tutor: Dr Vivienne Lo
This module aims to provide Knowledge of the background and development of key concepts and practices in the history of Chinese Medicine and it's manifestations in the modern world. The course will give a broad historical perspectiv, while at the same time focussing on the social,. cultural and political contexts of key times of medical innovation.
The deadline for applications is 31 May 2012 for international applicants and
30 June 2012for UK/EU applicants. Students are advised to apply as early as
possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship
funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of
For full details about how to apply please click here.
Eligible students can apply for full funding through an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research preparation Masters award. For specific details on AHRC funding click here. Please note - AHRC have specific deadlines for applying for funding, which you can find out about from their website.
For further queries, we recommend that prospective students contact the MA tutor, Professor Roger Cooter at email@example.com
All fees quoted are for the session 2012-13 and relate to the whole session. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase and this is implicit in accepting the offer of a place at UCL.
Full time: £10,000 / Part time: £5,000
Full time: £15,000 / part time: £7,750
More details, including details of available supports, loans, scholarships and prizes are available here.