1hr 15mins. You need to answer 5 questions from this paper and there are a total of 50 marks

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Medicine Through Time

Revision Guide


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Homewood History Department

UNIT 1A: Medicine and Treatment

Your first exam is the Medicine & Treatment paper. The results of this paper make up 25% of your final grade.

The exam lasts for 1hr 15mins. You need to answer 5 questions from this paper and there are a total of 50 marks for the answers and 3 further marks available on the last question for Spelling; punctuation and grammar. Very roughly, you should allow 1.5 minutes per mark.

Types of questions you will be asked:

Question 1 (8 marks) This is compulsory and it is a change question: use evidence from the sources to draw inferences about change and explain the changes using your own knowledge – you must use both sources in your answer. The source shows ‘…’ which tells me that… This was a big / substantial / large / small change because…

Question 2 (6 marks) This is a compulsory questions that focuses on describing or explaining a key feature of a particular period: you will have to choose one of the time periods and e.g. describe hospital treatment in that period – Hospitals were very successful / was not very successful in treating the sick in this time period. They used treatments like / they didn’t have access to technology such as… These were successful / not very successful because…

Question 3 (8 marks) This is a compulsory questions that focuses on ‘How useful’ question: explain in what ways the source is useful to a historian who is investigating a particular topic that you are told about. You must explain your answer using the source and your own knowledge. The source is useful because it is an accurate / complete / comprehensive representation of… which helps us to understand… about… This helps a historian studying XXX because… It is also useful because it shows us… helping us to infer… about… This helps a historian studying XXX because… However, it is not very accurate / complete / comprehensive in showing… which doesn’t help us to see… about… Overall this source is very / not very / partially useful for…

Question 4 OR 5 (12 marks) You should choose to answer EITHER question 4 OR 5. This is a question about explaining ‘change and continuity’ over a number of time periods. You will need to use factors to weigh up why things changed and why things stayed the same. Beliefs in causes of disease changed a lot over this time period. In 1350 beliefs such as… were held… Also,… These were believed because… People believed this until…There was not much / a lot of change because… By 1900 understanding of the causes of disease had changed to a great degree. This big change was due to… and… For example… Also,… This meant that… showing… Overall,…

Question 6 OR 7 (16 marks) You should choose to answer EITHER question 6 OR 7. These questions will ask you to judge ‘how much’ OR ‘how far’ something has ‘change or continued’ over some time periods. You will need to explain your answer by using the key points the examiner gives to you and adding at least one more of your own. It was very important because it saved thousands of lives. Jenner’s vaccination was better than inoculation because… This meant that… However government funding was needed to ensure that Jenner’s vaccination had a wide impact. It was also limited by the fact that the link between cox pox and small pox was unique, therefore the technique could not be used to fight against any other disease.

Jenner’s discovery was very important at the time because…

However Jenner’s ideas didn’t have an immediate big effect on medicine because vaccinations could not be done until nineteenth century advances meant that…


Suggested Activities

1/ Read through the Revision Audit. Check what you know and what you need to know.

2/ Divide your notes into categories and create a memory map for each one. If you don’t have notes – or you have missed a lot of lessons – then copy someone else’s work and use the notes in this guide.

3/ Use the tables in this booklet;


This shows how various themes (such as surgery, anatomy etc.) have developed through the various time periods. Try to use the table to answer the following questions.

A) Which things stayed the same?

B) Which things changed and when?

C) Which period saw most changes?

D) Which period saw least changes?

E) Which period saw most examples of progress (change for the better)?

F) Can you find any examples of regression (changes for the worse)?


Factors are things which affect development. This table shows how various factors have affected the development of medicine. These factors can cause or prevent changes. They can explain why there is progression in some areas but not in others. Use your table to complete the following tasks.

A) If you think a factor has hindered medicine in a particular time period shade the box in red. E.g. Religion in ancient Rome

B) If you think a factor has helped medicine in a particular time period shade the box in green. E.g. Government in the 20th Century

C) If you think a factor has helped and hindered then shade the box in red and green. E.g. War in the Middle Ages.

D) Choose the factor you think is the most important in each time period and explain why.

E) Choose the factor you think has helped medicine the most and explain why.

F) Choose the factor you think has hindered medicine the most and explain why.


You will be asked in your exam about the importance of key individuals. You will need to be able to explain how the particular individual made their discoveries. Use the table to complete the following tasks.

A) Put the individuals in order of importance. Who do you think made the most important discovery?

B) Put the individuals in order of influence. Whose ideas stayed popular for longest?

C) For each individual draw a spider diagram to show which factors helped them and how. E.g. Science & technology, improved communication and the declining power of the Church all helped Harvey make his discovery.

4/ At the end of this booklet are sections of notes on the most popular topics with plans for common questions. Read these and practice writing out your answers to the questions. Time yourself.

Revision Audit


After completion of the course


After first time of revising topic


After second time of revising topic


Medieval Medicine

  • Explain what medical treatments were available in the medieval period?

  • Explain the reasons for low life expectancy in the medieval period?

  • Explain what were believed to be the causes of the Black Death?

  • Describe the symptoms of the Black Death?

  • Describe the treatments were available for the Black Death?

  • Explain the impact of the Black Death?

  • Factor – How did religion affect medicine in this period?

The Renaissance

  • Explain the medical developments made by Harvey?

  • Explain the medical developments made by Vesalius?

  • Why did people still follow Galen?

  • Had medicine changed by 1665? Case study – the plague.

The Industrial Revolution

  • Why was Jenner’s discovery a landmark in the development of preventative medicine?

  • How did living conditions in the 19th Century contribute to the spread of disease?

  • Explain the important discovery made by Snow.

  • Explain why Pasteur’s discovery of germs was a turning point?

  • Explain how Koch and his team built on the work of Pasteur.

  • Identify improvements in hospitals and training of nurses.

  • Explain the importance of Florence Nightingale.

  • Explain the significance of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson.

  • Explain the advantages and problems of home treatments and patent medicines.

20th Century Medicine

  • Explain the reasons for increased life expectancy.

  • Identify ways in which WWI made improvements in medicine.

  • Explain the development of Magic bullets – Salvarsan 606 and Prontosil.

  • Explain the contribution Fleming, Florey & Chain made to the development of penicillin.

  • Explain the origins of the NHS.

  • Explain how the NHS helped to develop treatments.

  • Explain the importance of Watson and Crick and DNA.

  • Identify developments in medical technology.

  • Explain the continuation of the use of alternative medicines.

Roman Public Health

  • Provide a definition

  • Explain how Roman society affected medicine and public health in Roman Britain.

  • Identify the ideas and treatments used in medicine in Roman Britain.

  • Explain the key features of Roman public health.

  • Identify the significance of Roman public health measures.

  • Explain how medieval hospitals provided care and treatment.

  • Explain the effect of filthy medieval cities on health.

  • Explain the actions taken by the government to deal with the Plague in 1665.

  • Explain the role played by hospitals in medical treatment.

Public Health from c1350-present day

  • Provide a definition

  • Why were people demanding improved public health and why wasn’t everyone wanting it?

  • Explain the contribution made by Edwin Chadwick to public health?

  • Explain the advantages of the 1875 Public Health Act of the 1848 Act.

  • Explain the changes made by Government to public health between 1906-11.

  • Explain the importance of the setting up of the NHS in 1948.

  • Explain changes in public health since 1948 eg vaccinations and health education.

Now! Focus your revision. Start with the things you don’t have a clue about. Come back and complete this table again to see how you’re progressing.

The Medieval Period

After the fall of Rome, there was a regression in medicine in Europe, and a return to a more primitive outlook.

Treatments continued to be a mixture of herbal remedies, bleeding and purging, and supernatural ideas. Supernatural ideas included God, charms and luck, witchcraft or astrology.

Reasons for low life expectancy in the medieval period

In 1350 the average life expectancy was 30 years. Infant mortality was high. One in five children died before their first birthday. Many women died in childbirth. People died from injury, diseases such as smallpox, leprosy and various fevers.


Hippocrates was a doctor in ancient Greece. His approach was based on natural rather than supernatural explanations of illness. He developed the idea of clinical observation of the patient, rather than just of illness itself. His ideas also resulted in the Hippocratic Oath, which became a code of conduct for doctors. His ideas were written down in a collection of medical books.

The Greeks developed the idea of the four humours: blood, yellow bile, phlegm and black bile. It was suggested that any imbalance eg too much phlegm, was the cause of illness.


Galen was a Greek who was a doctor during the Roman Empire. He followed Hippocrates idea of observation and believed in the theory of the four humours. This led to continuity in medical knowledge and practice. Dissection of human bodies was banned. He trained as a doctor to gladiators and was able to increase his knowledge of human anatomy while treating wounds.

Galen developed the theory of the four humours by creating a treatment by opposites. He wrote over 100 books. Many of his books survived the fall of the Roman Empire so his ideas lasted through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. His work formed the basis for doctors’ training for the next 1400 years.

Galen dissected animals and proved in his experiment with a pig that the brain controlled the body, not the heart. However, many of his ideas on anatomy were incorrect as human anatomy is not the same as pigs, dogs and apes.

Medieval explanations of disease

Galen’s ideas about the cause of disease continued into the Middle Ages, therefore explanations for disease were that the humours were out of balance. They also believed the movement of the sun and planets, invisible poisons in the air and God and the Devil caused disease. Also commonsense reasons eg bad smells from toilets.

Black Death causes

In 1348 the Black Death reached England.

At the time, people did not understand what caused the disease, and they did not know how to stop its spread or cure it. There were both supernatural and natural explanations for it, for example, some people said that God had sent it as a punishment, others that the planets were in the wrong conjunction, or that it was caused by ‘foul air. Sometimes groups of people such as the Jews or nobility were said to be responsible.

Symptoms of the Black Death

The victims of Black Death suffered a high temperature, headache and vomiting, followed by lumps (buboes) in the armpit or groin. These then went black and spread all over the body.

Black Death treatments

There were no effective cures or treatments. People relied on prayer or ‘magical cures’ or took practical steps. Some attempts included strong-smelling posies as a precaution against ‘foul air’. they also ate cool things, cut open the buboes and draining the pus, lighting a fire in the room, tidying the rubbish from the streets and not letting people from other places enter the town.

Black Death Impact

Between one-third to a half of the population died.

Factor – Religion in the Medieval period

Where can you see that religion either helped or hindered the advance of medicine?

The Renaissance Period

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