• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest Gender Studies, History, Population Studies, Public Health, Human Rights
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course

As individuals, we experience sickness and wellness in personal terms, but these conditions have always had wider dimensions. What factors have led to changing experiences of health and illness in history, and why have some groups fared better or worse than others?

More than the history of bodies and medicine, this course provides cultural, economic, environmental, legal, political and social perspectives on various forms of sickness – from smallpox, plague and cholera to venereal disease, alcoholism and AIDS. Students will also learn how health policies and practices have produced distinct outcomes in different regions and periods.

Science and medicine have conquered many diseases over recent centuries. But trade, exploration, colonisation, mass migration, environmental exploitation, industrialisation, war, urbanisation, political ideologies and international relations have exerted greater influence, and these factors continue to shape patterns of sickness and wellness.

Power and authority sit at the heart of the relationship between illness and wellbeing. This course considers that theme by asking: how have different forms of illness and evolving health measures exposed, created and levelled inequalities? Additional questions include: What strategies have been authorized to combat illness in the pursuit of public health? Under what circumstances did health come to be considered a right?

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. identify and analyse how power and authority have shaped the history of sickness and health from the premodern period to the present;
  2. demonstrate advanced capacity to analyse sickness and health through the lenses of cultural, economic, environmental, legal, political and social history;
  3. undertake extensive original research using primary and secondary sources;
  4. formulate evidence-based arguments in written submissions; and
  5. demonstrate advanced comprehension of course lectures and written materials in oral discussions.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Primary Paper [1,500 words] using one visual and one written source pre-20thC (25) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Research Paper [3,000 words] (35) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Open-book Final Exam (3 hours) (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Participation [live and lecture postings] (10) [LO 1,2,5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorial and tutorial-like activities; and

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed HIST2112

Prescribed Texts

The course readings will be provided through an e-brick available via WATTLE.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $5700
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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