Health and Medicine in History

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
Hist 1165
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This introductory course is a general survey of health and medicine, particularly in Western societies, from antiquity to the twentieth century. Themes and topics will include: the changing role(s) of practitioner and patient; disease and disability; religion and medicine; perceptions of the body; evolution of modern medicine; evolution of health care; public health and the role of the state; technology and science; gender, race, class, and sexuality in medical perception and experience; medical education; and mental health.
Course Content

A sample course outline would include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics

  1. Introduction – health and medicine in historical perspective
  2. Ancient medicine and health care
  3. Greek and Roman medicine to 400AD
  4. Plague and disease in the Middle Ages
  5. Faith and science in the Middle Ages
  6. Anatomy and the Enlightenment
  7. Imperialism and disease
  8. Medicine in the eighteenth century
  9. Anaesthesia, nursing, and other revolutionary nineteenth century developments
  10. Public health and bodies in the late nineteenth century
  11. Biomedicine and infectious disease
  12. “Alternative” medicine
  13. 21st century innovations and future directions
  14. Course wrap-up and review
Learning Activities

Class sections will be divided between lectures and seminar discussions. The seminar discussion sessions will serve as a forum for the analysis and discussion of scholarly literature and as a testing ground for student hypotheses. The instructor will encourage students to elaborate, refine and revise ideas. Discussion sessions will also include tutorials in conducting historical research, the exploration of primary source documents, and practice in oral presentations. Participation in both lectures and seminar discussions is required for the successful completion of the course.

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accord with the DouglasCollege student evaluation policy. Specific components of evaluation will include some of the following: mid-term and final exams consisting of short answer questions and essay questions; in-class written work, quizzes, research paper; seminar presentations; short debate/position papers; participation in class discussions.

Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester and will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

Any combination of the following totalling 100%

Primary document analyses  15%
Historiographic paper  15%
Seminar presentation x2 (10% each)   20%
Attendance, participation, in class work  15%
Research proposal and annotated bibliography    15%
Final summative assignment and presentation  20%
Total 100%




Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Examine historical sources critically and analytically (reading history). These sources include not only survey texts and scholarly articles, but also short monographs and extended primary sources.
  2. Create and communicate personal interpretations of historical problems (writing history). Forms for communication of personal interpretations include medium-length essays (from 1500-3000 words), comparative book reviews, short interpretive essays, primary source studies, and final examinations.
  3. Analyze the ideas of other students and the instructor independently and in cooperation with other students (discussing history).
Textbook Materials

Texts will be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically:

An instructor’s Course Reader may be required.

Bynum, William. The History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Conrad, Lawrence. The Western Medical Tradition 800 BC to 1800 AD. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Duffin, Jacalyn. The History of Medicine: A Scandalously Short Introduction. 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

Porter, Roy, ed. The Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Links to electronic editions of other relevant monographs and collections of essays available through the library will be provided in the course syllabus.









Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HIST 1165
Alexander College (ALEX) ALEX HIST 1XX (3)
Athabasca University (AU) AU HIST 2XX (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU HIST 2XX (3)
Coast Mountain College (CMTN) CMTN HIST 2XX (3)
College of New Caledonia (CNC) CNC HIST 1XX (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR HIST 1XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU HIST 1XXX (3)
North Island College (NIC) NIC HIS 1XX (3)
Northern Lights College (NLC) NLC HIST 2XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU HIST 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU HIST 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU HIST 1XX (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW HIST 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO HIST 1st (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV HIST 1st (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HIST 1XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV HIST 1XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC HSTR 1XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU HIST 260 (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023