Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London

History of Science and Medicine

This Master's degree in history explores how the formidable forces of science and medicine have fundamentally shaped who we are. The history of science and medicine covers the history of ideas, technologies and interventions, but it also takes into consideration the history of everyday experiences of health, illness and wellbeing. 'Ordinary' people turn out to be the extraordinary lens through which we can reflect on our past. Pain and illness change the way we look at the world: certain forms of suffering are increasing, with chronic pain, for example, now affecting around 40% of people in Britain and America. The provision of healthcare is also undergoing major shifts and history can teach us valuable lessons about how medicine and caregiving has been understood in the past. This programme explores the historical roots and the social and conceptual foundations of modern science and medicine, equipping you with a deep understanding of how scientific and medical ideas and institutions relate to their broader historical context. It offers you the chance to study this fascinating, expanding area of social and cultural history at a department in which teaching is research-led, delivered by core staff with world-renowned research expertise. This is a growing field in which exciting new questions are being asked and new methodological approaches are being created and applied. Birkbeck is at the forefront of these advances and, unlike similar MA programmes, we cover the period from the ancient world to the present, and from global perspectives.

Entry requirements

A second-Class Honours degree in a humanities subject. If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

Course modules

The programme consists of 4 taught modules and a dissertation. All students take the core module 'Mastering Historical Research', choose 3 option modules from a wide range and then research and write a dissertation.

There is also skills training in preparing for the dissertation and you will receive one-to-one guidance and supervision for your dissertation research.

Not all modules are available each year. View the full timetable for the year.
Compulsory module:

Mastering Historical Research: Birkbeck Approaches .

Option modules:

8 Ancient Things - Approaches to Ancient Material Culture;
Coming to London: Migration, Society and the State in the Imperial Metropolis;
Cultural History of War in Britain and America between the First World War and the Conflict in Vietnam;
Death, Disease and Early Modern City;
Disease and Society in Africa in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries;
Fascism and Psychoanalysis;
From temples to museums: post-classical encounters with classical antiquities;
Gender in Britain;
Heresy in the High Middle Ages;
Madness and its Meanings;
Medicine in the Cold War;
Monastic Lives in Medieval England;
Practitioners and Patients in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe;
Renaissance Florence: Society, Religion and Culture;
Technology, Modernity and the Nation: Britain and Germany, 1880 to 1930 .

MA History of Science and Medicine dissertation .

Assessment methods

Assessment is via written work, including assessed 5000-word essays for each module undertaken and a 15,000-word dissertation.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Course duration
MA Full-time October 2016 - 1 years
MA Part-time October 2016 - 2 years
MA Full-time October 2017 - 1 years
MA Part-time October 2017 - 2 years

Campus details

Campus name Town Postcode Region Main campus Campus Partner
Bloomsbury Campus Bloomsbury WC1E 7HX South East

Key information

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