NMHS10090 A Social History of Irish Healthcare

Academic Year 2020/2021

This module examines aspects of the social history of healthcare in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Set against the background of social and economic developments in Ireland in the period, the module explores the subject through a number of themes. These include health care in institutions, public health and sanitation, health care in military conflicts, and health professionals and their patients. It discusses the earliest examples of organised healthcare in Ireland, including the charity and state hospitals, mental hospitals, and workhouse infirmaries, and describes treatment and care in these institutions. The module also highlights key developments in scientific medicine and public health, and discusses the development of modern healthcare professions. The module is suitable for all students of healthcare and for students studying courses in the arts and humanities and the social sciences, including history, politics and social policy.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module you should be able to:
• Outline major social changes occurring in Ireland the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the systems of organised healthcare that arose from these changes
• Describe and compare the systems of medical care provided by the state and by charitable bodies
• Discuss how developments in scientific knowledge led to improvements in public health, medical treatments and hospital care and the emergence of modern healthcare professionals
• Discuss the development of Irish health services in the period after Irish independence, with reference to the control of infectious diseases and the provision of hospital and community health services

Indicative Module Content:

Social changes in the early modern period
Hospital care in the early nineteenth century
Christian charity and charity hospitals
Workhouses and workhouse infirmaries
The Great Famine

Theories of infection and contagion: the miasma and germ theory
Public health in the nineteenth century: Urban health and sanitary reform

Health systems in military conflicts: The Crimean War and the Great War

'Medical men and lady nurses': New health professions
‘Very delicate and crippled with rickets’: Cripples and orphans
‘The blighted flower’: Intellectual disability
'Older folk': services and care provision for older people
'Great control': Treatments in mental health care in the twentieth century
‘In the company of those similarly afflicted’: Tuberculosis and the sanatorium
‘The growing menace’: The rise of hospital-acquired infections
Module evaluation and exam briefing

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning


Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module will be delivered online in the Brightspace virtual learning environment. Lectures will be prerecorded. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

No pre-requisites

Learning Exclusions:

no exclusions

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Soc History Irish Healthcare (NURS10090)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Online quizzes throughout the trimester, using MCQ examination A to E format Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% 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, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students wishing to have feedback on the outcome of the module assessment may contact the module coordinator in Trimester 2

Indicative Reading
NB This reading list is indicative and there is no requirement for students to purchase any of the books listed. The listed journal articles are available via UCD Library

Biagini EF and Daly ME (2017) The Cambridge Social History of Modern Ireland Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Daly, ME Dublin: The Deposed Capital: A Social and Economic History, 1860-1914 Cork: Cork University Press, 1984 (Chapter 1).

Farmar T. (2004) Patients, Potions and Physicians: a Social History of Medicine in Ireland, Dublin: A&A Farmar.

Fealy GM 2009 The Adelaide Hospital School of Nursing, 1859–2009: A Commemorative History Dublin: Columba Press.

Fealy, GM. A History of Apprenticeship Nurse Training in Ireland, Oxford: Routledge, 2006 (Chapter 1).

Fealy, GM (ed.) Care to Remember: Nursing and Midwifery in Ireland, 2005, Cork: Mercier Press (Chapters 4 and 7).

Fealy GM (2010) ‘Lady with the lamp’, World of Irish Nursing 18 (5), 22–23

Fealy, GM and Harford J. 2007 ‘Nervous energy and administrative ability’: The early lady principals and lady superintendents in Ireland.’ Journal of Educational Administration & History 39 (3), 271-283.

Fealy GM, McNamara M, Geraghty R. (2010) ‘The health of hospitals and lessons from history: Public health and sanitary reform in the Dublin hospitals, 1858–1898’ Journal of Clinical Nursing 19 (23-24), 3468-3476.

Luddy, M. Women and Philanthropy in Nineteenth-century Ireland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

McNamara MS and Fealy GM (2015) 'In the company of those similarly afflicted': The sanatorium patient and sanatorium nursing, c.1908–52, in Fealy, Hallett and Malchau Dietz (Eds.) Histories of Nursing Practice Manchester: Manchester University Press.

McNamara MS, Fealy GM, Geraghty R. (2013) ‘Cultures of control: A historical analysis of the development of infection control nursing in Ireland’, Nursing History Review Vol. 21, pp. 55–75. http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/1062-8061.21.55.
Name Role
Dr Aoife Claire MacCormac Lecturer / Co-Lecturer