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Academic Year 2023/2024

Medicine and Miracles (HIS33040)

Arts & Humanities
3 (Degree)
Module Coordinator:
Professor Michael Staunton
Mode of Delivery:
On Campus
Internship Module:
How will I be graded?
Letter grades

Curricular information is subject to change.

This module will explore various aspects of health and illness in Medieval Europe. Focusing first on medical theories of the time and the interplay between medical knowledge and Christian beliefs concerning the origin of illness, as well as the link between spiritual and physical health. This class will be divided both thematically and geographically, looking at the various expressions of healthcare and medical systems in Ireland and Britain while also focusing on specific illnesses such as madness and disability. Students will gain a greater understanding of the complex system of healthcare in medieval Europe and the role the cult of saints and miracle cures played within this system. Students will work with primary sources such as medical texts, law tracts and religious writings with emphasis placed on accounts of miraculous healing which allow us to explore the experiences of individuals suffering from illness in the Middle Ages, as a means to study history ‘from below.’

About this Module

Learning Outcomes:

Following completion of this module students should have:
• Knowledge on cultural beliefs concerning health and illness in Medieval Europe
• Knowledge on the various medical options available to sick individuals and their response to illness
• Understanding of the role Christianity played in shaping the perception of illness and the care provided to individuals through the use of accounts of miraculous healing
• Understanding of the role communities and social networks played in responses to illness
• Experience working with primary and secondary sources
• Development of writing, research and presentation skills

Indicative Module Content:

This module will address such topics as:
• Humoral Theory of Medicine
• Christian beliefs concerning health and illness
• The Patient’s View and studying history ‘from below’
• The Cult of Saints and Miraculous Healing
• Medical Systems in Anglo-Saxon England and Early Medieval Ireland
• Views and beliefs concerning individual illnesses such as madness and disabilities
• Women’s health

Student Effort Hours:
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module consists of a weekly 1-hour lecture and 2-hour seminar across eleven weeks. Seminars will be discussion based, focusing on critical reading of primary sources. Learning journals will provide continuous assessment over the course of the semester, with the secondary sources providing discussion points for seminars. Students will advance their skills in research, through both the final 4,000-word essay and in preparation for in-seminar presentations. Students will work in both small groups and class-wide discussion in which active participation is encouraged.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Participation and presentation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Learning journals Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 4,000-word essay Week 12 n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components

Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 

Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on learning journals, presentations and participation is given individually and to the class, verbally and in writing, throughout the semester. Feedback on end-of-semester essays is given individually and to the class on drafts and essays plans before final submission, and by appointment after submission and grading.

Name Role
Krystal Carmichael Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Miss Krystal Carmichael Lecturer / Co-Lecturer