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From Cradle to Grave: Health, Medicine and Society in Modern Britain (HI278)

Office Hours:
Lecture Times:

Seminar Times:

Prof. Hilary Marland
Room H319
Weds 10-11am, Thurs 11-12am
Thursday 10-11am, H3.58
Thursday 12-1am, H1.02

‘From Cradle to Grave’, a 30 CATS undergraduate second-year option module, explores medicine in modern Britain through the lens of the lifecycle, examining how health care and medical interventions impinge on individuals and families from birth, through adolescence, maturity and aging, to death. It focuses on a wide range of themes – childhood disease and child poverty, the challenges of adolescence, fertility, reproductive health, childbirth and maternity, diet and wellness, chronic disease, the menopause and aging. The module is particularly concerned with the evolving relationship between family, state and medical provision in terms of the creation of services, as well as the question of ‘who is responsible for health'? The module will focus on the rise of the state’s involvement in health care and changing institutional provision and the role of individuals, households and communities as active participants in their own health care, as well as the impact of voluntary organisations and patient/user groups. The module considers the role of geography, mobility, economics, class and gender alongside age as determinants of health issues and access to care.

The module will adopt a ‘medical humanities’ framework in terms of reading and, while the bulk of the literature is historical, we will also read materials from other disciplines which have been deeply influential in shaping the subjects we explore: including anthropology, gender studies, human and social geography, sociology, and literature and narrative studies. There will be a strong focus on patient narratives, and the module will also aim to interrogate the role of the media in commenting on medical services and shaping public perceptions. Through our readings and a ‘media watch’, we will relate the issues explored in the module to recent and current debates in health care; thus alongside childhood disease and ideas of risk we will consider the recent controversy about MMR vaccination, as we explore nutrition and diet we will look at the ongoing panic about levels of obesity, and in our session on fertility and reproductive health we will focus on current debates on the cost and consequences of extending fertility treatments.

The module will be taught through weekly lectures and seminars which students are required to attend. Emphasis will be on student-led seminars and students must all read the seminar readings on a weekly basis.

Summative Assessment (Assessed work)

Students will be assessed by:

  • 2-hour, two question exam paper (50%) The exam will take place during summer term on a date that will be scheduled closer to the time.
  • 4500 word essay (50%) .

For detailed information about assessed work including deadline dates and submission instructions please refer to the Department Assessment & Submission webpages.