This course provides a substantial introduction to the history of medicine from ancient times to the present through lectures from historians, curators and clinicians. It provides those with an interest in the history of medicine with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and historiographical skills, whilst learning more about the resources available for archival research. Its focus is the history of western medicine, but lectures on other medical systems are included, with new perspectives and topics added as the course evolves. The course draws on the history and archives of the Society of Apothecaries. Its collections are the focus of several sessions, whilst there are also strong links with a number of medical museums and collections in London.
The first term provides an introduction to the history of medicine and an overview of the subject from ancient times to the eighteenth century. The second term explores themes and developments in medical history ranging from plagues, infectious diseases and public health; to anatomy and Renaissance Medicine; and the development of medical specialities. The final term covers science and medicine, discussing topics such medical marketplaces and laboratory science, and includes visits to London medical museums and a joint day with the Faculty’s Philosophy Course. Workshop-style sessions which explore how to critically interpret primary sources, develop historiographical skills and provide presentation and vocal skills are incorporated over the course of the year. A course bibliography, core reading list and lecture synopses with information on specialised further reading are provided for the course
Our aim for the course is that participants are equipped to fulfil their personal objectives and interests in medical history, whether that is following a specific curiosity into a particular specialty, time period or theme, enabling them to feel confident to carry out their own research for personal or professional satisfaction, or to immerse themselves in a new discipline with a group of like-minded people.
Dr Anna Simmons works on production, trade, and science in the pharmaceutical marketplace, with a particular focus on London. Her research and numerous publications explore various aspects of the history of British chemistry, pharmacy and medicine from c. 1650 onwards, with a particular focus on the laboratories and pharmaceutical trade at the Society of Apothecaries and the development of chemical careers and professional organisations. She has published extensively on the history of Society of Apothecaries and is an expert on its archival collections. She has been Course Director since July 2020 and works with the Society’s Friends of the Archive to help promote use of its rich historical resources.
Course Insights: an interview with the Faculty Manager - click here to read.
After taking the History of Medicine Course you should have gained:
Current lecture content covers: (please see programme for lectures included in the academic year)
The course runs annually from October to June, usually on alternate Saturdays with breaks over UK holiday periods.
Please note: The course will run on Saturdays via Zoom from October 2022 to June 2023 in a blended format with some sessions in-person, but available later online and others live online via Zoom. Contact the Faculty Manager for any questions.
When meeting in-person the lectures are usually given at Apothecaries’ Hall, London, a City of London Livery Company Hall which dates from the seventeenth century. One course day is scheduled to take place at Guys Hospital, visiting the Gordon Museum and Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret and another course day takes place at the Science Museum, visiting the Medicine Galleries. There is also the opportunity to visit the London Metropolitan Archives outside of the course days.
Course drop-in fee
£80 Drop-in classes (please mention which course days you would like to attend when emailing application form)
Application form & T&Cs
Please fill out the application form, read the terms and conditions, sign and email to the Faculty Manager - click here
DHMSA Programme 2022-2023 (subject to changes)
Please click here to pay for the course.
Students may wish to sit the Diploma examination (DHMSA) which in summer 2023 will consist of written papers, a dissertation and Test Lecture, but this is not compulsory. There will be a new format of the exam from 2024 onwards and further details will be given when they are available.
Exam Bursaries Criteria
Eligibility, application and fees for the diploma examination are run separately by the Examinations Office. Details can be obtained here.
Contact: Maria Ferran, Faculty Manager & Webmaster
Telephone: 020 7236 1189
Black Friars Lane
London EC4V 6EJ
020 7236 1189
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