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Medicine and society in Europe 1500-1930

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This fascinating introduction to the last five centuries of medical history traces developments in medicine from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. It shows how a heritage of medical thought and practice inherited from classical Greece gradually became a recognisably modern medicine. The module aims to set medicine in its social, political and economic contexts, looking at the patient’s changing experience of illness, their access to care, and the role and identity of healers across Europe. It shows how western medicine interacted with ideas from contemporary science, religion, and other systems of thought.

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

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04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1625.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1465.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2015.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

In today’s society, the growth of medical technologies, costs of treatment and provision of medical care have become increasingly controversial issues which affect everybody’s life. History can provide a valuable perspective from which to make sense of today’s challenges. This module is for all students with an interest in history or medicine, and aims to provide a broad and deep understanding of how different social, political and cultural contexts shaped medical thought and practice between 1500 and 1930. Medical theories about the body and disease did not develop in isolation, but owed much to ideas from contemporary science and religion. The work of governments in providing health care was shaped by broader ideas of the proper function of the state. The role of hospitals was determined not just by the constraints of medical technology, but by funding and by the identity of patients as ’deserving cases’.

The module is organised chronologically, with each unit focusing on a major topic, such as the variety of healers in the early modern period; the development of the nineteenth-century medical profession; or colonial medicine. Comparisons help the appreciation of historical and geographic differences, and this is why the module explores the history of medicine across Europe and takes into account the input of non-western medical systems.

The work of the module is spread over 32 weeks. This includes six ‘reading weeks’ which provide a chance to catch up on work and prepare assignments. There are six tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) that begin with short essays and work up to long essays using material from across the module. The questions in the final three-hour examination are of similar forms.

Images and material culture are now at the centre of medical historians’ research. In addition to exploring a variety of written sources, you will engage with a range of visual materials. Videos will show and discuss the history of the buildings and spaces used for medical practice. The CD-ROM will help you to analyse still images to make sense of the changing perceptions of the body and the portrayal of patients and practitioners. You will learn how to ’read‘ buildings, objects and images to gain new insight into medicine in the past.

The module develops not only an understanding of the key features of the social history of medicine in Europe between 1500 and 1930, but also the skills to work independently; to evaluate and use primary and secondary source materials; to write essays; and to think critically about the work of historians. These skills will equip you for a wide range of studies at Level 3.

If you would like more information about this module you can visit the A218 website which includes further details about the module content, samples of study materials, extracts from the CD-ROM, and frequently asked questions.

Entry

This is a Level 2 module and builds on the Level 1 modules The arts past and present (AA100), Voices and texts (A150) and Making sense of things: an introduction to material culture (A151). These Level 1 modules develop skills such as logical thinking, clear expression, essay writing and the ability to select and interpret relevant materials. They also offer an introduction to a range of subjects in the arts and humanities.

If you have not studied at university level before, you are strongly advised to study at Level 1 before progressing to Level 2 study.

Your regional or national centre can advise you on where you can see reference copies of Level 1 study materials. Some are also available from Open University Worldwide Ltd. We particularly recommend looking at these materials if you have not successfully completed Level 1 study or studied at an equivalent level elsewhere.

You do not require any prior knowledge of medicine and its history, or any computing skills to study this module. All medical terms and ideas will be explained, and there is a comprehensive tutorial for using the CD-ROM.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service

Preparatory work

It would be useful to read the set text The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, R. Porter, Fontana Press. If you have not previously taken an Open University arts module, we advise you to read The Arts Good Study Guide, E. Chambers and A. Northedge, The Open University.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. The study materials are available on audio in DAISY Digital Talking Book format. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

One of the aims of this module is to utilise the rich heritage of visual imagery available to students in the history of medicine. One of the learning outcomes for this module is for students to develop their ability to analyse visual sources e.g. a poor quality nineteenth-century print of a public surgical procedure. Alternative arrangements can be made for blind and severely visually impaired students who experience difficulty in achieving this learning outcome. Visually impaired students have successfully completed the module. Students who have a background in the study of images gained whilst usefully sighted may be able to draw upon this experience in interpreting such images. Students are able to magnify CD-ROM images within the limits of standard computer applications, but no textual descriptions or alternative formats of images will be available and the use of a sighted assistant to interpret images would conflict with the required learning outcome. Blind and visually impaired students are encouraged to contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service for advice before registering for this module.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Books, other printed materials, audio CDs, DVD, CD-ROM, website.

You will need

Television, DVD and audio CD players.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Brunton, D (ed) Health, Disease and Society in Europe, 1800-1930: A source book, Manchester University Press £16.99 - ISBN 9780719067396
  • Elmer, P & Grell, O (eds) Health, Disease and Society in Europe, 1500-1800: A source book, Manchester University Press £16.99 - ISBN 9780719067372
  • Porter, Roy The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, Fontana Press £25.00 - ISBN 9780006374541

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“Overall, I found the course the most difficult in my six years' of study. Perhaps it was the September start ...”
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“I began my tertiary journey in 2011 with AA100 and A218 was my first single-discipline module. I loved it. I ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code A218
Credits 60
OU Level 2
SCQF level 9
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

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