Highlights from the History of Medicine

Ref: C2225534

In this course we will examine the development of medicine from pre-history to the modern day, looking at the discovery of human anatomy and physiology, and the causes, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Some of the topics we will examine will include: * medicine in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. * the work of the Italian anatomists. * the discovery of the Germ Theory of Disease. * the discovery of antisepsis and anaesthesia in the nineteenth century. * the importance of organic chemistry in the discovery and development of penicillin and other drugs. * the discovery of X-rays and their uses in medicine. * the use of non-invasive diagnostic techniques in modern medicine.

Course aim

In this course we examine human attempts to cure disease throughout history and see how developments in diagnosis and medicine have relied on developments in science and technology.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • No prior knowledge of medicine, biology or medicine will be assumed.

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

  • describe how our understanding of human anatomy, and the causes, diagnosis and treatment of disease have developed, often in parallel with developments in other sciences.
  • identify some of the major steps in the development of diagnostic techniques.
  • outline how improvements in medicine have resulted from our greater understanding of the causes of disease and from its treatment using antiseptic techniques, anaesthesia and drug therapies.

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
  • Although you will be given the opportunity to support your learning with some additional work done in your own time, all such work is entirely optional.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • There will be plenty of opportunities to discuss the topics being covered and questions will always be welcome.

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need a notebook and writing equipment.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • The course should enable you to assess with confidence some of the difficult issues facing medical scientists, health practitioners and their patients which are often discussed in the media.

Download full course information sheet

Highlights from the History of Medicine


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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