History of Medicine

Ref: C2338016

The course will explore key individuals whose advances and commitment revolutionised our understanding of disease and surgery. Edward Jenner’s battle against smallpox and development of the first vaccine. Pasteur and Koch’s work on the germ theory of disease. John Snow’s successful campaign to stop the spread of cholera and the wider battle to improve Public Health. The immense contribution of Simpson, Lister and Landsteiner in overcoming the problems of pain, infection and blood loss during surgery. The course will also consider the inspirational story of Elizabeth Garrett in becoming the first female doctor and conclude with an evaluation of the contribution of Florence Nightingale.

Course aim

To study key turning points in the History of Medicine from the first vaccine to major advances in surgery. From cowpox to chloroform.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • The course is suitable for anyone with an interest in the History of Medicine and who wants to understand the underlying issues behind the current Health care debate.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Know about key individuals who contributed to significant progress in medicine
  • Understand the key factors that have caused major changes in medicine
  • Be able to share ideas with other students and challenge assumptions about progress

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You will be encouraged to work together and share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • Feedback will be informal and will incorporate through discussion of shared life experiences with the group and checking understanding of key advances made in medicine.

What else do I need to know?

  • A desire to learn about the topics being studied A willingness to share ideas and contribute within a mutually supportive environment Pen, paper or recording equipment

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Reference books •Blood and Guts – A History of Surgery by M Mosley and R. Hollingham •Medicine’s Strangest Cases by M. O’Donnell •The History of Medicine – A very short introduction by W. Bynum

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • A good foundation for the follow up course from Bullets to Beveridge; key turning points in Twentieth Century Medicine.

Download full Course information sheet

History of Medicine

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing