Health in World History (MMHU6913)


This unit of study offers the student an overview of the history of health, both as a changing concept in medicine and society and as evolving practices of public health. The unit traces the main historical developments in public health and medicine from ancient and modern preoccupations with geography and climate, through the development of hospitals, the effects of imperialism and globalisation, and the involvement of states and international organisations in health. It will examine the influence of scientific and laboratory revolutions between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, before considering medicalisation and social discourses of health in the twentieth century. In addition to the history of ideas, this unit will focus on health practices and patient experiences as they interacted with changes in medical knowledge and broader society. Students will thus learn to examine the history of health within political, economic and cultural contexts, including those of class, religion, race and gender.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1x 2 hr seminar weekly or online response to readings


2x 2500 word essay (100%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.