SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3V222104
Module Leader Fiona Skillen
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject History
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)

Summary of Content

This module analyses how healthcare policy and practice in Britain was formulated and contested amongst healthcare professionals, patients, pressure groups and the state over the course of the twentieth century. Adopting a thematic approach within a loosely chronological framework, the module explores the ideological motivations underpinning health interventions and health activism against the backdrop of war, politics, changing economic fortunes and shifting social and cultural values. Attention is paid to the ways in which notions of rights and responsibilities, and perceptions of class, disability, age and gender, have influenced healthcare policy, generating new sites of health activism. Focussing on efforts to secure nationwide state health services, the module evaluates the strategies adopted by different groups seeking to influence the nature, scope and operation of these services, exploring why some groups were more successful than others in securing their objectives. It asks whether the proliferation of groups campaigning on health issues promoted democracy and health equality, and examines the changing relationship between patients and practitioners.


Indicative Syllabus: -360 1. War and Health 2. Disability 3. Eugenics and Mental Deficiency 4. Health, Poverty and Deprivation in the Interwar Years 5. Professional Politics and Healthcare Professionals as Activists 6. The Emergence of the National Health Service 7. The Politics of Occupational Health 8. Infant and Maternal Health 9. Health and Age 10. Patient Groups, Service Users, and Challenges to Professional Medicine 11. The End of the National Health Service?

Learning Outcomes

1. Learning OutcomesOn completion of the module, students should be able to demonstrate:1. Knowledge of healthcare policy in Britain since 1900 2. Awareness of the range of groups and individuals who played a role in shaping healthcare policy3. An understanding of how social, political and economic factors influenced debates on health and the roles of healthcare professionals and patients.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The modules will be delivered via two weekly lectures and one weekly seminar. Lectures will provide students with the framework of medical and social developments and will give an overview to conceptual approaches and historical controversies. The seminars will be student-led and will allow for more detailed consideration of texts, debates and approaches. Students will be expected to read the assigned texts and pre-circulated primary source materials in preparation for the seminar. Resources for the module, such as lecture PowerPoints, will be made available on GCU learn. The module will draw upon the rich collection of archival materials pertinent to this topic housed within the GCU Research Collections, and a visit will be arranged to the collections to introduce students to the practicalities of research. Formative assessment for this module comprises of an essay plan, while summative assessment will take the form of a) a 3,000 word essay and b) and a two hour exam, with 30 minutes reading time. Students will be encouraged to submit an essay plan to the module tutor prior to the essay deadline. Those who do so will be partnered by the tutor with a student preparing an essay on a different topic, and will be asked to provide feedback to their colleague. This process should encourage reflexivity, helping students to achieve better marks in their own work and develop skills in offering constructive criticism. The module tutor will also provide one to one feedback on the essay plan. The essay itself will provide an opportunity to undertake focussed research on one topic, allowing students to critically evaluate historiographical debates and conceptual approaches in depth. It offers a means to assess students' abilities to formulate their research into a reasoned, clearly structured and well-written essay. The exam will be made up of two parts: an essay question (to be selected from a list) which requires students to draw upon knowledge from different topics, testing their comprehension of the module as a whole, and short commentaries on primary source extracts, which will measure students' abilities to evaluate different source materials

Indicative Reading

-108 J. Anderson, War, Disability and Rehabilitation in Britain: Soul of a Nation (2011) V. Berridge, Health and Society in Britain since 1939 (1999) A. Borsay, Disability and Social Policy in Britain since 1750 (2004) R. Cooter and J. Pickstone (eds), Companion to Medicine in the Twentieth Century (2003) R. Cooter, 'The Decline and Rise of the Medical Member: Doctors and Parliament in Edwardian and Interwar Britain', Bulletin for the History of Medicine , 78 (2004), pp. 59-107. N. Crossley, Contesting Psychiatry: Social Movements in Mental Health (2006) M. Gijswijt-Hofstra and H. Marland (eds), Cultures of Child Health in Britain and the Netherlands in the Twentieth Century (2003) A. Hardy, Health and Medicine in Britain Since 1860 (2001) B. Harris, The Health of the Schoolchild: a History of the School Medical Service in England and Wales (1995) B. Harris, The Origins of the British Welfare State: Social Welfare in Britain, 1800-1945 (2004) J. Jenkinson, Scotland's Health, 1919-1948 (Oxford, 2002) H. Jones, Health and Society in Twentieth-Century Britain (1994) A. Karpf, Doctoring the Media: Reporting of Health and Medicine (1988) R. S. Lambert and H. L. Beales, Memoirs of the Unemployed (1934) V. Long, The Rise and Fall of the Healthy Factory: The Politics of Industrial Health in Britain, 1914-60 (2010) J. Lewis, The Politics of Motherhood: Child and Maternal Welfare in England, 1900-1939 (1980) R. Johnston and A. McIvor, Lethal work: A History of the Asbestos Tragedy in Scotland (East Linton, 2000) P. Michael and C. Webster (eds), Health and Society in Twentieth-Century Wales (2006). A. Mold, 'Patient Groups and the Construction of the Patient-Consumer in Britain: An Historical Overview', Journal of Social Policy , 49 (2010), pp. 505-521. C. Nottingham, The NHS in Scotland: The Legacy of the Past and the Prospect of the Future (2000) B. Robb, Sans Everything: A Case to Answer (London, 1967) D. F. Smith (ed.), Nutrition in Britain: Science, Scientists and Politics in the Twentieth Century (1997) J. Stewart, The Battle for Health: a Political History of the Socialist Medical Association, 1930-51 (1999) J. Stewart and A. Digby (eds), Gender, Health and Welfare (1998) S. Sturdy (ed.), Medicine, Health and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1600-2000 (2002) P. Thane, Old Age in English History: Past Experiences, Present Issues (2002) P. Thane, The Foundations of the Welfare State (1996) M. Thomson, The Problem of Mental Deficiency: Eugenics and Social Policy in Britain, C.1870-1959 (1998) C. Webster, 'Healthy or Hungry Thirties?', History Workshop Journal , 13 (1082), pp. 110-29. C. Webster (ed.), Caring for Health: History and Diversity (2001) J. Welshman, Underclass: A History of the Excluded, 1880 - 2000 (2007) I. Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Managing the Body: Beauty, Health and Fitness in Britain, 1880-1939 (2010)

Transferrable Skills

-360 1.An ability to analyse primary source materials and to evaluate different historiographical perspectives and methodological approaches. 2. The ability to research and produce written assignments that conform to appropriate standards of argument, composition and presentation.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Lectures (FT) 22.00
Independent Learning (FT) 147.00
Seminars (FT) 11.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 50.00 35% 3,000 Word essay
Exam (Exams Office) 2.50 50.00 35% One Essay and Gobbets