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MA in the History of Medicine


Director MA in the History of Medicine

Professor Roberta Bivins

MA in the History of Medicine (P-V3P7)

The Warwick History Department is recognised internationally as a centre for innovative and influential research and is consistently ranked among the best history departments in the UK. The MA in the History of Medicine aims to introduce students to the advanced study of the history of medicine, and to equip them with the conceptual and practical skills to carry out independent historical research in this field. The students on the MA are encouraged to engage with a range of concepts, and to place developments within medical theory and practice in a broad social and cultural framework.

The Term One core module ‘Themes and Methods in Medical History’ is designed to introduce students to some of the main historiographical approaches and debates within the history of medicine from the early modern period to the twenty-first century. The module focuses on the evolution of ideas, institutions and practices within medicine, the reception of new approaches and lay responses, the structure of medical practice and the medical professions, and the scientific, social and cultural context of medical intervention. Students are encouraged to situate illness, disease and health care in a broad context, and to frame discussions in seminars in response to a detailed and critical survey of the literature in this area.

The Term Two core module, 'Matters of Life and Death' focuses on recent contributions to the discipline, providing students with the opportunity to discuss in depth methodologies and approaches, the research questions underpinning the work and theoretical frameworks, while also relating the seminars to student interests and dissertation research. By studying these texts, students actively engage with the wide range of sources available to the historian of medicine (e.g. medical texts, practice records, diaries, case notes, public health reports and health propaganda, and visual sources).

Prospective students may be nominated for Wellcome Awards, as well as Departmental, University and ESRC funding.

A wide range of activities, including a seminar series and regular workshops, are organised by the Centre for the History of Medicine.

All our History MA courses can be studied on a part-time basis over two years. For further information, please contact the History Department MA Director, Dr. Claudia SteinLink opens in a new window

The Programme:


A compulsory course designed to help students acquire the methodological skills required to undertake an extended piece of historical research and writing.



Optional modules:
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Religious Cultures (HI993)
    This team-taught one-term option complements other modules by focusing on the (vast) role of religion in early modernity. Rather than following a chronological structure or dealing with individual denominations, it examines religious issues through (a) the perspectives of different academic disciplines and (b) coverage of key themes. Students will be able to engage with the multiplicity of approaches pursued in the field more generally and by members of the History department in particular.
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Gender and Sexuality (HI996)
    This optional module is intended to give a critical overview of one of the fastest growing and most dynamic areas of modern historical enquiry - the history of gender and sexuality. It aims to provide students with an understanding of how feminist and queer history has emerged from earlier approaches to the study of history, what makes it distinctive and what its principal strengths and weaknesses might be. It spans a wide geographical area and chronological period.
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Empire (HI995)
    This module draws on the considerable expertise throughout the department to consider how historians engage with the question of 'empire.' It spans a broad geographical area and chronological period.
  • Themes and Approaches to the Historical Study of Consumption (HI994)
    The history of consumption is the history of all the things that are part of our daily lives - the things we desire, buy, wear, eat, drink, discard - and about the ways in which the things we consume shape our lives. It is as much part of our daily lives today as it was part of every period in the past, and as much about the worlds we inhabit locally as about distant worlds.
  • Themes in the History of Science, Technology, Environment and Society (HI999)
    How can we understand the social and natural world in which we live? Concepts such as ‘nature’, ‘race’, ‘the body’, ‘the economy’, or ‘society’ help us to classify and order the endless phenomena in the material and natural world that we encounter every day. Yet while such concepts are vital, and seem fixed, transhistorical and objective, they emerged at particular moments in history, their meanings changed, and they were often deployed for particular purposes.

Outside Option List:

Given the availability of History Options in Term 2, students will be allowed to take approved options offered by the Sociology and Philosophy Departments only under exceptional circumstances. Please contact the Postgraduate and Research Coordinator for more information.

How to Apply:

To apply for the MA in the History of Medicine, please complete the University's Online Application FormLink opens in a new window

For more information on admissions in general please see the History PG Admissions webpage.