The History of Medicine (DHMSA)

Course Director: Dr Anna Simmons

Dr Anna Simmons has been associated with the Society of Apothecaries for more than twenty years, having completed her PhD on its chemical and pharmaceutical trading activities in 2004. Her research and publications include the early history of pharmaceutical manufacturing in London, the social and economic history of British chemistry and pharmacy and the development of chemical careers and professional organisations, within which the Society of Apothecaries and its pharmaceutical trade have always been a particular focus.  She has been employed on various database and online archival projects and has extensive experience of the charitable sector and scholarly societies.

The course provides lectures on the History of Western Medicine from ancient times to the present from historians, curators and clinicians. The first term provides an overview of the subject from  ancient times to the Enlightenment. The second terms explores themes and developments in medical history ranging from plagues, infectious diseases and science; and human health. It also includes visits to London medical museums and a joint day with the Faculty's Philosophy Course. The course aims to provide those with an interest in the history of medicine with an opportunity to develop their knowledge and historiographical skills, whilst learning more about the resources available for archival research. Whilst its focus is the history of western medicine, Egyptian, Islamic, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine are included and new perspectives and topics are added as the course evolves. The course draws on the rich archival holdings of the Society of Apothecaries and its collections are the focus of several sessions, whilst there are also strong links with a number of medical museums and collections in London.

Students may wish to sit the Diploma examination (DHMSA) which consists of written papers, a dissertation and Test Lecture but this is not compulsory. Background reading lists and lecture synopses are provided for the course.

The course runs annually from October to June on Saturdays.  When meeting in person, the lectures are usually given either at the The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries,  The Wellcome Collection, London Metropolitan archives or Guy's Hospital.

Please note: The course will run on Saturdays via Zoom from October 2021-June 2022 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.

Annual Course fee 2021-2022
£80 Drop-in classes (please mention which course days you would like to attend when emailing application form)

Closing date: 1 November 2021

Course Information
DHMSA Programme 2021-2022 (subject to changes)
DHMSA Select Bibliography_ October 2021

Exam Bursaries Criteria

  1. 10 examination bursaries are offered to medical and dental students at UK higher education institutions (HEIs) who are either current students on the main WSAL history and philosophy courses (DHMSA or DPMSA) or who have completed the course in the last 3 years.
  2. Bursaries are allocated on a first come/served basis (with priority given to current students for that year’s allocation) until the due date of the formative essay in philosophy (this being the first necessary deadline for entry to the exam in a given year) or, for history, the deadline for receipt in the Examinations Office of the titles and proposal/abstract for the dissertation and test lecture. In addition, if the examination is deferred or bursaries are not taken up they may be rolled over into the subsequent two years until used.
  3. Furthermore, the Executive Committee (EC) will, with sufficient notice (prior to the deadlines specified), consider exceptional requests from undergraduates in relevant disciplines or professions. The relevance will be determined by the EC whose decisions will be final and not the setting of a precedent. (The Executive Committee may elect to expand this to students of other healthcare disciplines at UK HEIs or other students in fields connected to history and philosophy in the future.)

Application form & T&Cs
Please fill out the application form, read the terms and conditions, sign and email to the Faculty Manager - click here

Please click here to pay for the course.

Eligibility, application and fees for the diploma examination are run separately by the Examinations Office. Details can be obtained here.

Faculty of the History and Philosophy of Medicine and Pharmacy

Contact: Maria Ferran, Faculty Manager & Webmaster
Telephone: 020 7236 1189