AQA GCSE History: Britain: Health and the people: c1000 to the present day

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Britain: Health and the people: c1000 to the present day

In this thematic study, students will gain a detailed understanding of how medicine and public health evolved in Britain over the course of centuries to get a broad picture of causes, scale, nature and consequences of short- and long-term developments and their impact on British society. While the study focuses primarily on developments in Britain, wider developments from around the world are also drawn upon for historical context and to provide examples of how they affected Britain.

Students will study a wide variety of topics compiled into four modules, namely:

Part one: Medicine stands still

Themes include:

  • Medieval medicine: approaches including natural, supernatural, ideas of Hippocratic and

Galenic methods and treatments; the medieval doctor; training, beliefs about the cause of illness.

  • Medical progress: the contribution of Christianity to medical progress and treatment; hospitals; the nature and importance of Islamic medicine and surgery; surgery in medieval times, ideas and techniques.
  • Public health in the Middle Ages: towns and monasteries; the Black Death in Britain, beliefs about its causes, treatment and prevention.

Part two: The beginnings of change

Themes include:

  • The impact of the Renaissance on Britain: challenge to medical authority in anatomy, physiology and surgery; the work of Vesalius, Paré, William Harvey; opposition to change.
  • Dealing with disease: traditional and new methods of treatments; quackery; methods of treating disease; plague; the growth of hospitals; changes to the training and status of surgeons and physicians; the work of John Hunter.
  • Prevention of disease: inoculation; Edward Jenner, vaccination and opposition to change.

Part three: A revolution in medicine

  • The development of Germ Theory and its impact on the treatment of disease in Britain: the importance of Pasteur, Robert Koch and microbe hunting; Pasteur and vaccination; Paul Ehrlich and magic bullets; everyday medical treatments and remedies.
  • A revolution in surgery: anaesthetics, including Simpson and chloroform; antiseptics, including Lister and carbolic acid; surgical procedures; aseptic surgery.
  • Improvements in public health: public health problems in industrial Britain; cholera epidemics; the role of public health reformers; local and national government involvement in public health improvement, including the 1848 and 1875 Public Health Acts.

Part four: Modern medicine

Themes include:

  • Modern treatment of disease: the development of the pharmaceutical industry; penicillin, its discovery by Fleming, its development; new diseases and treatments, antibiotic resistance; alternative treatments.
  • The impact of war and technology on surgery: plastic surgery; blood transfusions; X-rays; transplant surgery; modern surgical methods, including lasers, radiation therapy and keyhole surgery.
  • Modern public health: the importance of Booth, Rowntree, and the Boer War; the Liberal social reforms; the impact of two world wars on public health, poverty and housing; the Beveridge Report and the Welfare State; creation and development of the National Health Service; costs, choices and the issues of healthcare in the 21st century.

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