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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Death and Disease in History
Module Code HY206
School 68
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Juliana Adelman
Semester 2: Juliana Adelman
Autumn: Juliana Adelman
Module TeachersSusan Hegarty
Juliana Adelman
Grania Shanahan
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

Recent scares over swine flu, avian flu, Ebol and Zika virus have brought epidemic disease to the front pages of our newspapers. The way that we respond to the contemporary risks posed by these diseases is shaped in many ways by our history. Have you ever wondered why we fear some diseases more than others? Or why plague has disappeared and new diseases have appeared? Have you ever considered why we visit doctors instead of some other kind of healer when we are sick? This module looks at the history of medicine as well as a number of specific diseases (some confined to history, some still with us). We try to understand how European society has responded to illness from the early modern period up to the twentieth century. We ask how medicine became a prestigious profession and doctors a part of our everyday lives. Through lectures, class discussions, document analysis and a field trip, we will try to understand how the European experience of death and diseae has changed over four centuries.

Learning Outcomes

1. Identify significant changes in European society’s ideas about disease and medicine in the past.
2. Explain how ideas about disease and medicine have consequences for patients and society.
3. Relate changes in medicine to changes in society in the past.
4. Analyse primary and secondary sources in the history of medicine.
5. Use their knowledge of the past to think critically about medicine and disease in our world today.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture22Lectures and seminars
Independent Study48Readings
Assignment Completion55completion of CA
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Lectures and seminars will cover topics such as:
Early modern medicine and ideas of the body, the rise of professional training and of the hospital, public health and social medicine. In parallel we will examine specific epidemic diseases which might include plague, syphilis, cholera, influenza, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, HIV, smallpox, malaria or yellow fever.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
AssignmentWeekly reading journal, 2 document analyses, seminar participation, short presentation100%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • P. Elmer (ed): 2004, The healing arts: health, disease and society in Europe 1500-1800, Manchester,
  • D. Brunton (ed): 2004, Medicine transformed: health, disease and society in Europe 1800-1930, Manchester,
  • Mary Lindemann: 2010, Medicine and society in early modern Europe, Cambridge,
  • Mark Jackson: 2014, The history of medicine: a beginner’s guide, London,
  • Roy Porter: 2002, Blood and guts: a short history of medicine, London,
Other Resources

28249, 0, The module Loop site includes a key reading for discussion each week and an extensive reading list.,
Programme or List of Programmes
BAJHBachelor of Arts (BAJH)
BAJLBachelor of Arts (BAJL)
BAJPBachelor of Arts (BAJP)

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