SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMV322084
Module Leader Janet Greenlees
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Politics
  • 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. The module concludes by tracing the changing relationship between patients and practitioners.


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

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate: knowledge of healthcare policy in Britain since 1900; awareness of the range of groups and individuals who played a role in shaping healthcare policy and an understanding of the factors which enabled some groups to exert a greater influence on the shape of health policy than others; understanding of how social, political and economic factors influenced debates on health and the roles of healthcare professionals and patients.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This is a seminar based module which encourages discussion and debate. A student will introduce each topic and the whole group will then engage with primary sources and historiographical debates through materials supplied and recommended by the module leader. To foster skills in the use of primary source materials, students will undertake an analysis of a primary source, to be agreed with the tutor. The review of a secondary text will help students develop their abilities to critically analyse how an argument is constructed, while completion of an essay on a topic agreed with the module leader will enable students to undertake focussed research on one topic, evaluating historiographical debates in depth.

Indicative Reading

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 (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, 'Marginalising the Body at Work? Employers' Occupational Health Strategies and Occupational Medicine in Scotland', Social History of Medicine, 21 (2008), pp. 127-44 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) 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

Students will further develop skills in 1. the analysis of historical debates and contemporary documents 2. essay and report writing 3. oral history and debating

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (FT) 30.00
Independent Learning (FT) 97.00
Seminars (PT) 30.00
Independent Learning (PT) 97.00
Tutorials (FT) 5.00
Tutorials (PT) 5.00
Assessment (FT) 18.00
Assessment (PT) 18.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 2 n/a 70.00 45% Essay
Coursework 1 n/a 30.00 45% Critical review of secondary text