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Master History of Medicine

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  • Entry requirements
    You should normally hold an upper second class 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. If English is not your first language, you will need to provide certification of your English language proficiency. For this course you will need an IELTS score of at least 7, or TOEFL 600 (paper-based) or 250 (computer-based). Applications should be received no later than 1 August, though it is advisable to apply much earlier than this. If you are intending to apply to the AHRC for a studentship award we must receive your application before 1 March.
  • Academic Title
    MA / PGDip / PGCert History of Medicine
  • Course description
    MA / PGDip / PGCert

    Oxford Brookes is a leading centre in the UK for the study of history of medicine; it is the home of the Centre for Health, Medicine and Society, Past and Present, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust. As a student on the MA in History of Medicine you will receive a thorough grounding in the social and cultural history of medicine through a programme of research training. This will be combined with intensive modules on specific topics and the opportunity to conduct advanced research on a dissertation subject of your choice.

    The programme provides an excellent preparation for students intending to go on to PhD research. It will also be of interest to health care professionals and to graduates in history or the social sciences seeking further personal development. All students enjoy ready access to the outstanding libraries and archives in Oxford and London and you will be invited to participate in the lively annual programme of seminars, conferences and special lectures organised by the Centre for Health, Medicine and Society.

    Shorter courses in history of medicine, namely the postgraduate diploma, and the postgraduate certificate, are also available, and it is possible to transfer between these and the MA programme.

    Successful full-time applicants may be eligible to apply for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships and for Wellcome Trust studentships. Many previous students have been successful in these competitions and have progressed to fully funded doctoral studentships.

    Course content

    The MA in History of Medicine consists of four modules: a compulsory core module, two elective modules and a dissertation. Postgraduate diploma students take Modules 1,2 and 3; postgraduate certificate students take Module 1 and one elective module. Modules may change from time to time; an indicative list is shown below.

        * Module 1: Key Concepts and Methods in Research in History of Medicine 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 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.
        * Modules 2 and 3: elective modules You will take two specialist modules enabling you to conduct close study of topics in two different areas of medical history. The topics for these modules reflect the specific research expertise of the staff in the Centre and the programme offered varies from year to year. Topics include: International Eugenics in the 20th Century; The History of the Pharmaceutical Industry; The Origins and Development of the National Health Service: 1919 to the Present; The Hospital in History; The History of Death and Dying in Britain, 1750-1900 . Each module lasts for one semester and is assessed by two or three written assignments. 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.
        * Module 4: Dissertation This is the capstone of the master's programme. 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. 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 during Semester 2 (part-time students take this in Year 2). The dissertation is completed over the summer and submitted by 1 September.

    Higher degrees by research
    We welcome applications from suitably qualified candidates for MPhil and PhD research degrees in any area of history of medicine. Both degrees are available in full-time and part-time mode and are examined entirely by thesis. The MPhil takes two years (four years part-time) and requires the production of a thesis of 50,000 words (max). The PhD takes three years (six years part-time) and is examined by a thesis of 100,000 words (max). Most PhD students are required to register for the MPhil in the first instance and transfer to the PhD after 18-24 months without submitting for the MPhil. Research students are supervised by a team of tutors including a director of studies and at least one other supervisor. You will benefit from further research training programmes offered by the School of Arts and Humanities and by the University.

    Teaching, learning and assessment

    The MA programme is taught through small-group seminars, workshops and individual tutorials. Classes are held in the evenings and the sessions run from 6.30pm to 9.00pm. Part-time students attend the University one evening per week and should be able to devote an additional 12-15 hours per week to private study. Full-time students attend classes on two evenings per week and spend 30 hours per week in private study. Assessment is entirely by written work. There are no examinations.


    The History Department was rated 5* (out of 5*) in the most recent national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). This was the highest possible score, denoting work of international excellence.
    The course team has particular research strengths in the history of the doctor-patient relationship; scientific and medical research in Nazi Germany; medical ethics; the history of social welfare; the history of anatomy; and biomedical research and the pharmaceutical industry.

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