Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Rise of Modern Medicine, c.1750-2000
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Written Essay  2500 words  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written Examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment Written Essay  2500 WORDS  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Written Examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate an understanding of modern developments in medicine and health services in Europe and north America.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic and political contexts of developments in medicine and medical services.
3. Evaluate the impact of scientific medicine on the lives of individuals in the past.
4. Utilise primary sources to gain insights into the complexities of the provision of medical care in the past.


The module offers students a broad overview of the history of medicine in the western world and, as such, complements existing provision in the modern period and in the geographical coverage of Britain, Europe and north America in the department. This new module is created in order to provide a second-year version of a previous module that was taught to second- and third-year students together at level 3, as was the practice in the department until recently, and changes the assessment regime to correspond with that used in the department for option modules for second-year students taught at level 2.

Brief description

This course offers an introduction to the political, social and intellectual aspects of medicine and health-care as they developed in western Europe and America in the modern period. It examines how ‘orthodox’ practitioners utilised Enlightenment notions of reason, rationality and scientific truth in their battle with rival systems of medicine and successfully attained official recognition and political and social pre-eminence. This development of the medical profession and medical knowledge is situated in the context of the modern rise of nation-states and the processes of industrialisation and urbanisation.


1. Introduction.
2. The ‘Medical Marketplace’ in the Eighteenth Century.
3. The Development of Scientific Medicine.
4. Hospitals in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.
5. Professionalisation and Specialisation.
6. The Development of Surgery in the Nineteenth Century.
7. ‘Alternative’ Systems of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century.
8. ‘Satanic Mills’: Industrialisation, Urbanisation and Public Health.
9. Madness and Society.
10. Women in Medicine.
11. Women and Medicine.
12. Imperialism and the Spread of Western Medicine.
13. Eugenic Science and Medicine in the Twentieth Century.
14. Scientific Medicine in the Twentieth Century.
15. Medicine and War.
16. Medicine and the State I: Health Insurance.
17. Medicine and the State II: The National Health Service.
18. The Triumph of Western Medicine since the Second World War.
1. Medicine in the Eighteenth Century
2. Madness and Society
3. Medicalisation and the Opposition to Scientific Medicine
4. War and Medicine
5. Doctor-Patient relations
6. Medicine and the State

Revision session

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills N/A
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 5