Find a course


History - History of Medicine

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2020



Course length

Full time: PGCert: 4 months, PGDip: 9 months; MA: 12 months

Part time: PGCert: 2 semesters; PGDip: 3 semesters; MA: 24 months


School of History, Philosophy and Culture


Our MA History - History of Medicine allows you to bridge the gap between a taught Masters in History and a Masters by Research.

Through a course of research training, it offers you the unique chance to focus on the social, scientific and cultural history of medicine. As well as the relationship between medicine and the humanities (history, philosophy, sociology, literature and art). It also gives you the flexibility to pursue taught modules in other aspects of history.

The course has been shaped by leading researchers in our department. This means the knowledge and expertise you gain is grounded in the latest scholarship within the field.  

You will conduct research on topics of your choice with independent study and dissertation modules. And develop your core skills. 

If you intend to continue with PhD research, this course provides excellent preparation. It will also be of interest to graduates seeking further professional development. Particularly healthcare professionals and graduates of history or the social sciences.

Three female students studying outside

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

You should normally hold a 2:1 honours degree, or its equivalent, in an appropriate subject. If it is some time since you completed your undergraduate education and you do not meet the standard requirement, it may be possible to consider your application based on evidence of other relevant personal and professional experience, the support of your referees and examples of written work.

Applicants may be asked to send a sample of recent academic writing in English together with the application form. If this is not possible, you may substitute a 1,500-word essay reviewing a recent academic book on a historical topic.

Applicants for research degrees should normally hold a master's degree in a subject appropriate to the proposed research topic and the same level of English language proficiency as required for the master's courses.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
2020 / 21
Home/EU full time
£7,500 (Masters); £6,500 (Diploma); £3,750 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2020 / 21
Home/EU full time
£7,500 (Masters); £6,500 (Diploma); £3,750 (Certificate)

Home/EU part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year your fees will increase each year.

Financial support and scholarships

There are International Student Scholarships available for 2020 and other scholarships and funding options for postgraduate international students.

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed below.

Learning and assessment

You will study four modules to gain your MA History - History of Medicine, these include:

  • a compulsory core module
  • two elective modules
  • dissertation.

Shorter courses in History are also available: the postgraduate diploma and the postgraduate certificate. It is possible to transfer between these and the MA course.

Postgraduate diploma students take the compulsory core module and two elective modules.

Postgraduate certificate students take the compulsory core module and one elective module.

Full-time MA students take one elective module in each semester. Part-time MA students take their first elective in Semester 2 of the first year and their second elective in Semester 1 of the second year.

Lecturer presenting to class

Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Theories, Methods and Practices in the History of Medicine: An Introduction to MA Study

Every student takes this compulsory core module which is designed to help make the transition from undergraduate to graduate-level work. You will develop your understanding of the historiography of medical history humanities and acquire the necessary skills in research methods and interpretation of historical sources, which will enable you to engage in independent research. This module is taken in Semester 1 and is assessed by two written assignments.

Optional modules

Worlds of Risk: Technology, Health and the Environment

This module encourages you to reflect on the novelty of the present age, and to explore questions about when and how understanding and managing risks became such a key feature of modern societies. It provides a critical and historical perspective on a series of contemporary risks, among them climate change and technological catastrophes, and the dangers that have accompanied the rise of new technologies, particularly synthetic chemicals, drugs, artificial foodstuffs, and the nuclear industry. 

Engineering Society: Eugenics and Biopolitics, 1860-1945

This module examines comparative themes in the history of eugenics, racism, biopolitics, anthropology and modernity from 1800 to 1945. You will be given the opportunity to study the fundamental issues that have pre-occupied historians of biology, science and modernity since the 1800s and combine these with specific case studies from a wide range of European countries.

Ethics and Ideas: From the Hippocratic Oath to Informed Consent

This module examines various comparative themes in the history of medical ethics, from Hippocrates to the present. In particular, students will be given the opportunity to study the fundamental issues that have pre-occupied historians of medical malpractice and clinical research. 

The Hospital in History

This module provides a long-term analysis of the origins and transformations of the hospital in its social context. The course covers changing organisational forms, funding, medical specialisation, therapeutic innovations, patients, public perceptions, and the broader politics of hospital development within western and non-European contexts. 

Independent Study Module

You will also have the option of taking an Independent Study Module, which normally involves the completion of an extended, research-based essay (6,000 words) on a topic of your choice. 

Final project

Compulsory modules


This is the second compulsory, and the capstone of the MA in History (History of Medicine). You will have the opportunity to conduct a major in-depth investigation into a historical topic of your choice, leading to the production of a 15,000-word thesis (including footnotes).

The topic may be related to one of your elective modules or may be chosen from another area of your interest. You will be supported in your research by individual supervision from a specialist tutor and by group workshops on advanced research design that take place in Semester 2 (for part-time students this is taken in Year 2). The dissertation is completed over the summer and is submitted on the last Friday in September.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

Our range of teaching methods includes:

  • small group seminars
  • discussion groups
  • workshops
  • individual tutorials
  • historiographical and bibliographical presentations.

Field trips to local museums and archives are included in several modules.

Classes are held during the evening, and usually run from 6-7pm.

As a part-time student, you will attend the university once a week. You will need to spend an additional 12–15 hours per week on private study.

As a full-time student, you'll attend classes for two evenings per week and spend 30 hours per week in private study.


Assessment methods used on this course

Each module lasts for one semester and is assessed by two or three written assignments.


Our thriving research and postgraduate culture will provides you with the ideal environment.

Our historians are regarded as experts in their field and their research informs some of the key debates in society.

Principal research areas in which our teaching staff specialise include:

  • race, ethics and ideas
  • poverty, welfare and public health
  • crime, forensic medicine and the law
  • psychiatry, mental health and healing
  • western and indigenous medicine, with a focus mainly on Europe and India
  • pharmaceutical R&D, with an emphasis on the development of drug treatments for chronic diseases and cancer, in Britain, France and the USA
  • urban space, health and the environment, from the early modern to the modern period.

Each group meets to discuss and analyse central texts in the field. They also organise work-in-progress seminars, and offer support and feedback for external grant applications.

For further information on our research expertise, please visit our staff profiles page.

Male researcher working on laptop

After you graduate

Career prospects

Students who have completed the MA in History have developed a variety of careers. A significant number have gone on to undertake PhD study, secondary school history teaching, and archive management. Others have taken up or developed their careers in medically related professions, in:

  • animal health
  • psychiatry
  • paramedical specialities
  • University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust research.

The Brookes Careers service provides practical tips, training and advice for up to three years after graduation.

Our Staff

Professor Marius Turda

Marius Turda is Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities.

Read more about Marius

Programme Changes: On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.