A History of Medicine

Ref: C2226827

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. Hence, the course will concentrate on the following themes: * Medicine in pre-history, ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. * The preservation and development of Greek science and medicine by the arab nations. * The work of the Italian anatomists. * The discovery of the Germ Theory of Disease. * The discovery of antisepsis and anaesthesia in 19th. century medicine. * 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 (e.g. CT, MRI, PET and ultrasound scans) in modern medicine.

Course aim

We examine the development of our understanding of how the body works and what causes it to malfunction. We look at human attempts to cure disease and see how developments in diagnosis and medicine have relied on those in science and technology.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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, anesthesia 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
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

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

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Apart from writing materials, nothing else is needed

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
  • No specific reading is needed prior to the start of the course although a list of useful reference sources will be discussed early on in the course

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • This course will provide you with a good background understanding of the history of medicine and of many aspects of disease and modern medicine. This should enable you, perhaps, confidently to access some of the difficult issues facing medical scientists, doctors and patients.

Download full course information sheet

A 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 2019
  • 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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