Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Approaches to Health and Medicine: Historical Perspectives

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION The co-ordinator of the study-unit will provide an introductory lecture that will act as a framework for the whole. It is then intended to have ‘clusters’ of lectures and seminars along these lines:

A. Historical Overview: to provide students with a very broad introduction to the subject, enabling them to navigate with confidence a very eclectic area of study.

B. Health, Medicine and the Mediterranean: having sketched the broad parametres of the field, the unit will then zoom unto the Mediterranean and the specific challenges this region has experienced over time.

C. The Order of St John: this third cluster will invite students to engage with an international institution that has existed for nearly a 1,000 years in which health care (very broadly understood) has been a key component of its existence.

A final session will be dedicated to presentations by students.

In each cluster, students will approach the subject through a mixture of lectures and seminars, with a focus on a student-centred and student-led learning process. The various clusters bring together thematic, longitudinal and spatial considerations of health and medicine in order to provide a holistic approach.

Study-unit Aims:

• To offer students insights into the study of health and medicine from a variety of historical perspectives;
• To highlight developments in the field of historical studies related to health and medicine;
• To make students aware of divergent points-of-view about the history of health and medicine as a discipline and as a subject;
• To underscore the interaction health and medicine and the various environments in which these unfold.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• explain key conceptual debates in historical discussions about health and medicine;
• highlight and analyze key themes in history pertaining to health and medicine;
• critically appraise how an interdisciplinary approach to a subject which takes in a variety of perspectives provides for a better understanding of situations and events;
• recognise, relate and explain that the historical study of health and medicine involves looking at both diversity and unity to recognise human complexity over time and in place.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• read critically and selectively and make sense of a range of secondary sources;
• navigate with confidence through online resources and understand how to distinguish between generic web sites and serious academic and professional tools;
• write an assignment with a clear structure and logical presentation of arguments;
• discern the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach in seeking to gain a holistic perspective of socio-politico-cultural issues in contemporary society.

All of these skills are transferable and will prove useful to students in a variety of fields and career avenues.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:


- LAWRENCE I. CONRAD and WELLCOME INSTITUTE FOR THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE, 1995. The Western medical tradition: 800 BC to AD 1800. Cambridge University Press.
- PORTER, R., 2004. Blood and guts: A short history of medicine. WW Norton & Company.
- HENDERSON, J., 2006. The Renaissance hospital: healing the body and healing the soul. Yale University Press.
- ROBB, J., 2016. The body in history: Europe from the Palaeolithic to the future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- BURNHAM, J.C., 2005. What is medical history? Polity.
- BYNUM, W., 2008. The history of medicine: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press.
- SAVONA-VENTURA, C., 2016. Knight Hospitaller Medicine in Malta [1530-1798]. Lulu Press Inc.
- SAVONA-VENTURA, C., 2016. Contemporary Medicine in Malta [1798-1979]. Lulu. com.


- PORTER, R., 1995. Disease, medicine and society in England, 1550-1860. Cambridge University Press.
- PORTER, R., 1999. The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (The Norton History of Science). London: WW Norton & Company.
- CRAWSHAW, J.L.S., 2016. Plague hospitals: public health for the city in early modern Venice. Routledge.
- HENDERSON, J., HORDEN, P. and PASTORE, A., 2007. The Impact of Hospitals, 300-2000. Peter Lang.
- REINARZ, J. and WYNTER, R., 2015. Complaints, Controversies and Grievances in Medicine: Historical and Social Science Perspectives. Routledge.
- BONFIELD, C., REINARZ, J. and HUGUET-TERMES, T., 2013. Hospitals and Communities, 1100-1960. Oxford: Peter Lang.
- CAVALLO, S. and STOREY, T., 2013. Healthy Living in Late Renaissance Italy. Oxford University Press.
- GENTILCORE, D., 1998. Healers and healing in early modern Italy. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- GENTILCORE, D., 2006. Medical charlatanism in early modern Italy. Oxford University Press on Demand.
- BYNUM, W.F. and PORTER, R., 1993. Medicine and the five senses. Cambridge University press.
- LANE, J., 2001. A social history of medicine: health, healing and disease in England, 1750-1950. UK: Taylor and Francis.
- PELLING, M., 2014. The common lot: sickness, medical occupations and the urban poor in early modern England. Routledge.
- PORTER, R., 2001. Bodies politic: disease, death, and doctors in Britain, 1650-1900. Cornell University Press.
- WADDINGTON, K., 2011. An introduction to the social history of medicine: Europe since 1500. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- CAVALLO, S., 2007. Artisans of the body in early modern Italy: identities, families and masculinities. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- SAVONA VENTURA, C. 2016 Ancient and Medieval Medicine in Malta [before 1600]. (Malta: Lulu Press Inc.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study, Seminar and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (25 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 40%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 60%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.