Ref: C2523546

Why did early modern people think they became ill, and what did they do about it? This course covers those questions and more besides - the physicians, surgeons and others who provided treatment, and the roles of war, religion and government. From the development of hospitals to the path of the plague, we will follow ordinary people in sickness and in health - so if you ever wanted to know whether you are phlegmatic or melancholic (and why it matters), and why you might choose to sit in an open sewer or put a donkey skin on your back... this is the course for you! Featuring not only lectures and discussions but lots of objects, sources, and activities. Some sources and information will come from the local area.

Course aim

This course will examine the theory and practice of medicine in the early modern era (around 1450-1750).

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Describe the main theories of health and illness of the early modern era
  • 2. Describe who provided medical help, and what forms this help might take
  • 3. Have a basic understanding of some of the key sources used by medical historians of the period.

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 may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • You will study a range of sources and handle replica objects

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

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • There is no set course material but suggestions of interesting websites or books will be made throughout the course should you wish to pursue them.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full Course information sheet



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
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