Online Program Courses

Students registering for the Certificate or M.A. degree are required to take the following combinations of courses, as follows:

  • Introduction to the History of Medicine
  • Methods in the History of Medicine
  • Two of the four Survey of the History of Medicine courses
  • Two electives (which, if desired, can include the other two Survey courses).
M.A. Degree

As per the Certificate, plus (totals 12 courses):

  • Remainder of Survey Courses
  • Research Seminar (2 term course)
  • Research Practicum
  • Supervised Reading and Research
  • Thesis Preparation course
  • Thesis

The Introduction to Online Learning is a prerequisite for all courses in the History of Medicine Online Program and is not offered for credit.

The following courses will be offered in 2016-17:

Term 1: Thursday, September 1–Wednesday, October 26, 2016 (registration deadline: Friday, August 26)

150.730 Methods in the History of Medicine   

Term 2: Thursday, October 27–Thursday, December 22, 2016 (registration deadline: Wednesday, October 19)

150.729 Social and Cultural Histories of Disease

Term 3: Monday, January 23 - Friday, March 17, 2017 (registration deadline: Friday, January 13)

150.723 History of Medicine Survey 1: Classical Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages

150.728 Healing Spaces: Historical Geographies of Medical Practice (Research Seminar A)

150.722 Introduction to the History of Medicine

SPH.550.605.81 History of Public Health

Term 4: Monday, March 27–Friday, May 19, 2017  (registration deadline: Monday, March 20th, 2017)

150.732 Healing in Place (Research Seminar B) 

150.724 History of Medicine Survey 2: Medicine from the Black Death to the Scientific Revolution

150.733 On site Research Practicum (April 30th-May 3rd)

Future Courses*
Fall 2016 Spring 2017 Fall 2017 Spring 2018
Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4
Methods Social and Cultural History of Disease Survey 1 Survey 2 Survey 3 Survey 4 IHOM Social and Cultural History of Disease
    Research Seminar A: Healing Spaces Research Seminar B: Healing in Place     History of Public Health  


Onsite Research Practicum

    History of Public Health          

*Please note that course scheduling may change

Course Descriptions

Our online courses are designed to provide a strong foundational grounding in the history of medicine. Depending on whether a student is registered for a Certificate or an M.A. Degree, some of these core courses can also be taken as electives.

150.722 Introduction to the History of Medicine (3 credits)  Next offered Term 3, January 2017.

This course introduces students to the key themes, concepts, and methods of the field in a dynamic seminar arranged by thematic modules. Topics covered include: What is Disease? The Healer-Patient Relationship; Seeing the Body; Pain; Medical Technologies. Successful completion of this course is required prior to formal application to the online Certificate and/or Master’s program.

150.723 Survey of the History of Medicine 1: Classical Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages (3 credits) Next offered Term 3, January 2017

This course introduces students to key themes and concepts in Ancient Medicine by means of seminar discussions accompanied by on-line lectures that provide background. Topics include the medical marketplace in Greece and Rome; forms of religious healing; the emergence of rational medicine; the advent of Christian healing; and the development of the humoral system. View the course intro video here.

150.724 Survey of the History of Medicine 2: Medicine from the Black Death to the Scientific Revolution (3 credits) Next offered Term 4, March 2017

This course introduces students to key themes and concepts in Medieval and Early Modern Medicine by means of seminar discussions accompanied by online lectures that provide background. Topics include the emergence of medical licensing; the persistence of religious healing; cross-cultural exchanges; and the patient’s perspective. View the course intro video here.

150.726 Survey of the History of Medicine 3: Science and the Practice of Medicine (3 credits)

In this course we will explore health and healing in the 18th and early 19th centuries. We examine the changing basis of European and North American medical theory and practice, the transformation of specialized spaces for healing such as the clinic, the hospital, and the asylum, the impact of epidemic diseases on the differential construction of public health systems, and the role of medicine in the construction of race, class, and ethnicity. View the course intro video here.

150.727 Survey of the History of Medicine 4: Biomedicine in Context (3 credits )

In this course we will explore the rapid transformation of health care from the late 19th century to the present day.  We examine the historical connection between the laboratory and the clinic, the transformation of hospitals and medical schools, the shifting epidemiology of disease over the long 20th century, and the role of medicine and healthcare in mediating colonial and postcolonial relations between global North and South.

150.730  Methods in the History of Medicine (3 credits) Next offered Term 1, August 2016 .

This course introduces students to basic themes in the secondary literature in the history of medicine, highlighting issues such as the choice of primary sources; varieties of research methods; interpretive strategies; and narrative options. Additional resources from the histories of science and technology will be introduced where appropriate. See here for the syllabus.

SPH.550.605.81 History of Public Health (3 credits)

This course examines the historical experience of health and illness from a population perspective. The course seeks to reveal how the organization of societies facilitates or mitigates the production and transmission of disease. It also asks how do populations and groups of individuals go about securing their health? We concentrate primarily on the modern world (i.e., 1750 onwards). A thematic rather than chronological structure will be adopted so that comparisons can be made across the centuries and between different parts of the globe.

View the course Introduction here.

150.729 Social and Cultural Histories of Disease (3 credits) Next offered Term 2, October 2016

Examines a range of infectious and non-infectious ailments to explore how people sought to comprehend disease in the past, what resources they mobilized to make such meanings, and the prevailing cultural and scientific norms that conditioned their thinking. Focus is on how formulations of disease can shape notions of gender, class, race, and childhood, and vice versa. Students will analyze a variety of methodological approaches that historians have adopted in trying to understand and interpret different diseases.

150.728 Research Seminar A: Healing Spaces: Historical Geographies of Medical Practice (3 credits) Next offered term 3, January 2017

Provides an historical introduction to how all kinds of healers, medical practitioners, and care-givers have produced and adapted different spaces to facilitate, promote, and authorize particular forms of healing. Examples discussed include homes, streets, dispensaries, and the emergency room.

150.732 Research Seminar B: The History of Medicine in Place (3 credits) Next offered term 4, March 2017

This research seminar examines the role of place and place-making in the history of medicine. Building on themes already addressed in 150.728 Healing Spaces: Historical Geographies of Medical Practice, students will conduct research based on the history of medical practice in specific places. Students will choose a particular place or places as their focus to develop a theoretically and empirically grounded written paper that utilizes primary sources to illustrate the role of place in medical practice, knowledge-making, or both. Pre-Requisite: 150.728 Research Seminar A: Healing Spaces

History of Medical Technology (3 credits)

This course examines the changing role of medical technologies in the science and practice of medicine, with particular attention to their function as devices for the arbitration of health and disease; as artifacts for studying the mediation of race, gender, and ethnicity; as a site for examining the changing nature of the medical marketplace. Examples will be drawn from several centuries and several continents and will include: diagnostic technologies; therapeutic technologies; reproductive technologies; prostheses; technologies of enhancement; communication technologies, technologies of health surveillance, and telemedicine.

Cross-Cultural History of Medicine, Science and Religion (3 credits)

Medicine and religion address fundamental questions of the human condition. Over millennia, various cultures have defined and redefined the roles of priest and physician; probed the boundaries between body and soul, matter and spirit; and questioned what defines life and death. This course traces three trajectories: transformations of ancient Greek Hippocratic medicine in the Latin West, Islamic countries, Persia, and India; medical and religious exchanges in the ‘first global age’ (16th-18th centuries); and how a cross-cultural history of religion and medicine shapes scientific medicine in the present.

History of Health and Development in Africa (3 credits)

This course examines the impact of colonial and post-colonial development on patterns of sickness, health, and health care in Africa. It also focuses on African responses to changing patterns of health care and disease. Topics include: patterns of disease and therapeutic responses in pre-colonial Africa; colonial epidemics; industrialization, urbanization, and disease; agrarian transformations, malnutrition, and the political economy of famine; sexuality, colonial control, and disease; western medicine and the social construction of African identities; African reproductive health and family planning; recession, debt, and Africa's health care crises; histories of AIDS in Africa.

150.733 Research Practicum (onsite, 3 credits) Next offered April 30-May 3, 2017.

Prerequisite: enrollment in MA program

One week intensive course held at the Department of the History of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of medicine in Baltimore, MD. Will provide students with practical expertise in conducting research in the history of medicine. This course is a prerequisite for students embarking on the preparation of a MA thesis.

150.817 Directed Reading (3 credits)

This course will be tailored to the specific research interests of each student or small group of students. In collaboration with a member of Faculty, a set of readings from the secondary literature will form the basis for discussion and interpretation in relation to the topic of the student’s thesis. This course is a prerequisite for commencing a Master's thesis.

150.818 Directed Research (3 credits)

In this course, students undertake research for their Master's thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisites: Acceptance in the MA program; 2 terms of Research Seminar; Research Practicum; Directed Reading.


Students will be expected to submit a master’s thesis on a topic in the history of medicine, health and healing, or public health that is based on original research.


PLEASE NOTE: future course scheduling may be subject to change.

If you have any questions about our Online Program, please email