Queen's University
BMED 173 History and Philosophy of Health and Healthcare

BMED 173, History and Philosophy of Health and Healthcare, is a multidisciplinary course organized around five major fields of scientific endeavour in the BHSc program: anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and population and global health. In each course module, we begin with the historical evolution of one of these subject areas and focus on the people, events and discoveries that have had the biggest impact on its development. Against this backdrop, we move to the present day where we encounter lively controversies within each field that invite us to think deeply about how technological innovations, social values and science interact.


Note: This course is not open to Arts and Science students.

PHIL 201/3.0

After completing BMED 173 History and Philosophy of Health and Healthcare, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and analyze important people, events and trends that have influenced the development of five core subjects in the BHSc program (anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, population and global health) in order to understand what role technological developments and social values play in the construction and application of science.
  2. Understand different perspectives on controversial issues in contemporary health science fields in order to critically assess them.
  3. Identify relevant sources and carry out research using traditional and web-based resources.


As Communicators, health professionals form relationships with patients and their families* that facilitate the gathering and sharing of essential information for effective health care.


As Scholars, health professionals demonstrate a lifelong commitment to excellence in practice through continuous learning and by teaching others, evaluating evidence, and contributing to scholarship.


As Professionals, health professionals are committed to the health and well-being of individual patients and society through ethical practice, high personal standards of behaviour, accountability to the profession and society, physician-led regulation, and maintenance of personal health.

Assessment 1 – Discussion Boards (25%)

In this course, you will have formal and informal opportunities for collaborative working, peer support and regular participation in a learning community. Each of you will be assigned to a tutorial group that will serve as your learning community for the semester. You and your fellow tutorial group members will communicate together using your tutorial group discussion board. Your tutorial participation will give you a chance to get to know your fellow students, deepen your understanding of course materials, hone your critical thinking and communication skills, and learn from others.

Each week, your tutorial group will receive a set of instructions to help guide your conversations. Discussion board tasks will be carried out with the assistance of your tutor. Over the semester, you are expected to make regular contributions to discussion board conversations and to participate in other planned activities. If you haven’t used a discussion board before, the experience can seem a bit strange at first. However, students quickly adapt and most report high satisfaction rates. Contributions to the discussion board don’t have to be formally structured, referenced and written in academic prose; as long as your contributions are clear, friendly and move the discussion along in a positive way, you are on the right track. Your tutorial group participation via discussions boards is worth 25% of your course grade. You will receive your grade at the end of the semester. Your grade will be determined on the basis of the criteria outlined in the discussion board.

Assessment 2 – Blog (75%)

Independent reading, thinking and writing are essential to your learning success in BMED173 and you will have your own personal blog to use as your assignment workspace — a place where you can complete assigned blog tasks, bring together threads of investigation, explore areas of uncertainty and pose questions in a safe environment. Because your assignments are located in one location, the blog will also serve as an ongoing record of your thinking and development over the course of the semester.

The main textbook for this course is: History of Medicine: A Scandalously Short Introduction (2nd edition) by Jacalyn Duffin. There are three ways to purchase the textbook:

  1. (Recommended) You can purchase a custom e-package containing the required textbook chapters for the course in a PDF format that can be annotated. The cost of the custom e-book is $17.95 (Canadian). You can purchase a custom electronic version through the University of Toronto Press PublishingNote: If you purchase the electronic version, please download Adobe(R) Digital Editionsand authorize with an AdobeID. Without authorizing your Adobe Digital Editions to an “AdobeID” your ebook will be locked to the 1 device it was downloaded to, it will not be transferable to another computer/device. For iPhone, iPad and Android devices download Bluefire Reader and authorize with your AdobeID to read. You can purchase the full textbook as a paper copy for $33.11 (Canadian) or an e-publication for $32.95 (Canadian) at the University of Toronto Press Publishing website.
  2. You can purchase a hard copy of the textbook online through a commercial bookseller. If you choose this option, please place your order early to ensure that your textbook is delivered in time for module 2 (course week 3).

In addition to the core textbook readings, you will be assigned material from journal articles, news stories, videos and other internet media. Links to these free materials are provided in the course modules.

Queen’s students, faculty, administrators and staff all have responsibilities for supporting and upholding the fundamental values of academic integrity. Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see http://www.academicintegrity.org) and by the quality of courage. These values and qualities are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University.

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and adhering to the regulations concerning academic integrity. General information on academic integrity is available at Integrity@Queen's University, along with Faculty or School specific information. Departures from academic integrity include, but are not limited to, plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification. Actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning, to loss of grades on an assignment, to failure of a course, to requirement to withdraw from the university.

Specifically, for BMED 173 History and Philosophy of Health and Healthcare, students must express themselves in their own words, and cite sources when they use outside information. Verbatim copying of the module text or textbook is considered plagiarism and is a breach of academic integrity. Further, lying and misrepresentation are dishonest and violate the core values of academic integrity.

All components of this course will receive numerical percentage marks. The final grade received for the course will be derived by converting the student’s numerical course average to a letter grade according to Queen’s Official Grade Conversion Scale.