The history of science, medicine, and technology is a long-established discipline in Oxford. R. T. Gunther and Charles Singer were among the pioneers of the subject early in the twentieth century, and since the 1920s the Museum of the History of Science has housed an outstanding collection of scientific instruments and a fine specialist library.
In the early 1970s, the creation of the chair of the history of science and the establishment of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine gave the subject additional strength and allowed important new departures.
The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine is a leading international centre for graduate research in most aspects of the history of medicine, with particular expertise in the area of infectious diseases and medicine in tropical countries.
The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine was founded in 1972, as an inter-faculty and inter-disciplinary venture. It is now a leading international centre for graduate research and teaching in many aspects of the history of medicine. The Unit comes under the general supervision of the Board of the Faculty of History within the Humanities Division. Over the years, the Unit has developed a particularly strong interest and international reputation in the social history of medicine in Britain, but also has particular strengths in the history of medicine in the non-Western world and the former colonial territories.
The Unit offers both MSc (one year) and MPhil (two years) degrees, and supports a strong doctoral program. Graduate students have produced outstanding theses in a wide array of subjects relating to the history of medicine – a particular strength is medicine in the non-Western world. Pre-clinical students have also been supervised by staff and the Unit has continued to attract many distinguished scholars who have made valuable use of the Unit’s outstanding collection of library materials.
Graduate seminars are held at the Unit in each week of the three teaching terms, together with a number of conferences and workshops each year. The Unit also has a substantial library of around 7,000 volumes in the history of medicine, and is particularly strong on the history of public health and tropical medicine.