Health & Society in Germany Since c1900 ESH4005

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will explore the relationships between health and society in the context of 20th century Germany. Health will be interpreted broadly to mean the state organisation of preventive and therapeutic medical and health care, public health, social and cultural understandings of the body, health, sickness and disease, and environmental factors which impact on well-being.


The course addresses developments specific to Germany such as health policy and society in Imperial Germany; welfare and social change in the Weimar Republic; the ways in which social hygiene and eugenic theory were adapted and synthesised into the goals of National Socialism; fertility and reproduction in the Third Reich as well as the 'euthanasia' programmes; the medical trials and public health in the occupation period; the building of new societies and health care systems in both East and West Germany post-1949 and the impact of cultural change post 1968.


Lectures: one hour per week

Seminars: one hour per week

Tutorials: one individual meeting to discuss coursework


Please note this course does not run every session. For further information please check the ESH Moodle page.

Requirements of Entry

Enrolment in an MA (SocSci) or MA (Arts) Honours Programme


One essay (2,000-2,500 words) = 25%

One source report (1,000-1,500 words) = 15%

One two-hour exam = 60%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable


Course Aims

1. To introduce students to debates in 20th century Germany history in relation to health and society.

1. To encourage students to consider the relationships between political and economic structures, culture, society and health; the impact of war and social dislocation on health and society; and the roles and responsibilities of the individual, the state and the medical profession in achieving health.

1. To increase students' ability to critically analyse secondary literature and primary sources (where available in translation or from documents produced in English).

1. To facilitate students' ability to express ideas and put forward arguments in complex subjects in German history and the history of medicine.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Show critical understanding and systematic knowledge of the main issues affecting health and society in 20th century Germany.

2. Assess the significance of class, race and gender in 20th century German history.

3. Demonstrate an ability to use primary and secondary material in a variety of forms from the period.

4. Express an informed opinion on the key debates regarding health and society in 20th Century Germany.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.