SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MMV320208
Module Leader Janet Greenlees
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject History
  • A (September start)
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Successful completion of an undergraduate degree in a related field or the equivalent.

Summary of Content

This module examines ideas and practices of health and healthcare in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa under British colonial rule from c. 1850-1960. A thematic approach is adopted to introduce students to the key areas of healthcare provision, from local African medicine to Missionary and Colonial State Western medicines. The first part of the mule pays special attention to key major medical issues that affected Colonial Africa-epidemics such as sleeping sickness and plague; mental health issues for local and European patients; advances in tropical medicine; and the implementation of public health measures to combat illness. The second part of the module considers the important role played by Africans in the provision of Western healthcare, alongside local healing traditions, as well as the major post-colonial medical issues that affect the continent-namely famine, AIDS, and access to pharmaceuticals. Primary sources are used each week to focus seminar discussions.


Part 1: -360 1.) Introduction to the Historiography of Health and Healthcare in British Colonial Africa 2.) African Healing Traditions 3.) Missionary Medicine 4.) Medical Administration 5.) Climate, Health and the 'New' Tropical Medicine 6.) Epidemics , the Colonial State and African Agency 7.) Sanitation and Public Health Part 2: -360 8.) Colonial Psychiatry in Africa 9.) African medical practitioners 10.) Post-Colonial African Health Issues

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should:have acquired an understanding of how Africans and Europeans interacted and experienced medicine as both patients and practitioners during the period of British colonial rule; and how key events and issues during this period helped develop modern systems of healthcare in both Africa and Britain

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. Students will also make oral presentations on particular, pre-selected topics

Indicative Reading

Arnold, David (ed), Imperial Medicine and Indigenous Societies: Disease, Medicine, and Empire in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries , Manchester & New York, Manchester University, 1988 Curtin, Philip, The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-1850 , Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1964 Feierman, Steven and John Janzen (eds.), The Social History of Disease and Medicine in Africa, Special issue, Social Science and Medicine , 1979 Feierman, Steven and John Janzen (eds.), The Social Basis of Health and Healing in Africa , University of California Press, 1992 Hartwig, GW and JD Patterson (eds.), Disease in African History: An Introductory Survey and Case Studies, Durham NC, Duke University Press, 1978 Macleod, Roy and Lewis, Milton (eds.), Disease, Medicine and Empire: Perspectives on Western Medicine and the Experience of European Expansion , New York, Routledge, 1988 Marks, Shula, 'What is Colonial about Colonial Medicine? And What has Happened to the Imperialism of Health?', Social History of Medicine , 10, 2, 1997, pp.205-19 Sabben-Clare, EE, DJ Bradley and K Kirkwood (eds.), Health in Tropical Africa During the Colonial Period: Based on the Proceedings of a Symposium Held at New College, Oxford 21-23 March 1977 , Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1980 Ranger, Terence, 'The Invention of Tradition in Colonial Africa' in Eric Hobsbawn and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition , Cambridge University Press, 2002 (first published, 1983), pp.211-62 Vaughan, Megan, Curing Their Ills: Colonial Power and African Illness , Padstow, Polity Press, 1991 Vaughan, Megan, 'Healing and Curing: Issues in the Social History and Anthropology of Medicine in Africa', Social History of Medicine , 7, 2, 1994, pp.283-95

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
Independent Learning (FT) 147.00
Tutorials (FT) 5.00
Assessment (FT) 18.00
Seminars (FT) 30.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Presentation n/a 25.00 n/a seminar presentation, 500 words
Essay n/a 50.00 n/a Essay, 3000 words
Review n/a 25.00 n/a Critical Review of secondary text agreed between student and module leader, 1500 words