Health through the ages

Understanding Disease Through History

This clip provides a chronological overview of humankind’s understanding of disease throughout history including prevention, treatment and diagnosis. Ancient Chinese medicine, medieval beliefs, microbiology and 20th century breakthroughs have all contributed to our growing knowledge of disease and medicine. This is an engaging journey through an important area of our scientific history.

Health in Industrial Britain

The Industrial Revolution brought about some important advancements. These included the understanding of: human physiology, diseases and their treatment, medicine, and medical procedures. This programme, targeted at GCSE history students, covers a range of important developments, including Pasteur’s Germ Theory, improvements in hospital care and the work of Florence Nightingale, the use of anaesthetics and vaccinations, and the Public Health Act of 1875.

Health in Modern Britain

This programme explores developments in health and medicine during the 20th and 21st centuries. These include: diagnostics and x-rays, CT and MRI scans, the understanding of genetics and how it impacts individuals’ health, antibiotics, blood transfusions, insulin, and anti-histamines. It also looks at examples of legislation aimed at improving public health, and the development of the NHS. This is a valuable resource for GSCE history students.

Health in Medieval Britain

This programme examines health, medicine and surgery in Britain between 1250 and 1500, when knowledge and practices were largely based on superstition and untested theories such as the human body’s four humours. It also looks at the various causes wrongly attributed to the Black Death, which killed 1.5 million people. This is an interesting and informative history resource, ideal for GCSE history students.

Technology and Innovation in the 20th Century

As the world entered the 20th century, technology was changing the way people lived. This programme examines some of the significant advancements in communication, infrastructure and transport, and medicine and public health. In the post-war boom, unprecedented consumerism took hold. Technology continued its advance unabated and in today’s digital world, it shapes our lives more than at any time in history.

Health in Early Modern Britain

Between 1500 and 1700, people’s understanding of disease and medicine progressed. New approaches, particularly the scientific method, led to significant changes, including identifying how blood flowed around the body and the classification of diseases. However, elements of superstition and religious beliefs still prevailed in diagnoses and treatments. This programme explores this period in Britain’s medical history and is an excellent resource for GCSE history students.

Gene Technology Our History of Understanding to Modern Techniques

Explore the history of our understanding of genetics, from the observations of Mendel to the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick. We outline the function of DNA, chromosomes, genes and protein replication, and how research into genetics has led to the development of gene technology. We examine how bacteria are engineered to mass-produce substances like insulin, look into cloning and explore the importance of the human genome project.

Topic: Anglo-Saxon and Norman England

The Normans – Episode 1: Men From the North

Robert Bartlett kicks off his three-part profile of The Normans with a look at how the fearsome warriors first established their province of Normandy in France.

The Normans – Episode 2: Conquest

Robert Bartlett reveals how the Norman conquest was ‘one in the eye’ for Britain, as the all-conquering William built fortifications and commissioned the Domesday Book.

The Normans – Episode 3: Normans of the South

Robert Bartlett explores the impact of the Normans on south Europe and the Middle East and the subsequent deep rift between Christianity and Islam. Final part.

Daily Life

Imagine eating just bread, oat porridge and vegetable stew…or trying to impress your rich friends with a dinner of peacock. Daily life was very different for the poor peasants of medieval society, compared to their rich Lords. However, both the rich and poor alike suffered rickets, scurvy and bad teeth, and it wasn’t uncommon for a peasant to bath just once a year!

The Feudal System

After the death of Edward the Confessor, there was a bloody four-way battle for the throne. Discover how William the Conqueror defeated the last of the Viking kings, and one of the richest men in England, in order to seize the throne and all of England’s wealth for the Normans. This clip explores the impact this had on the power structure and political system of Medieval England.


After 1066, William the Conqueror, and subsequent Norman Kings, built thousands of castles to ensure their control. Learn about the castles’ Motte and Bailey design, as Wilburg and Norman explain key features such as moats, keeps and murder holes! Students will also learn information about castle life – including jousting and feasts.

Influence of the Church

An alliance made in heaven! Did you know that William the Conqueror colluded with Pope Alexander II? Or that some of the first schools in England were started by churches? Or that monasteries brewed their own beer? This clip takes a fascinating glimpse into the power and influence of the Church in Medieval England.

Crime and Punishment

During the Medieval period, trial by ordeal was not uncommon. The accused was tied up and tossed in the water – if they floated they were guilty but if they drowned they were innocent. Justice was not exactly being served! However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. After the Norman invasion, Parliament was the highest court in England and Edward the First introduced more statutes than any other medieval king.

Topic: The American West

How the Wild West Was Won with Ray Mears – Episode 1: Mountains

How America’s three great mountain ranges – the Appalachians, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada – challenged the westward push of the early pioneers.

How the Wild West Was Won with Ray Mears – Episode 2: Great Plains

Ray Mears learns how 500,000 square miles of flat, treeless grassland was the setting for Wild West stories of Indians, wagon trains and homesteaders.

How the Wild West Was Won with Ray Mears – Episode 3: Deserts

Ray Mears looks at how the landscapes of America’s five great deserts challenged the westward push of the early pioneers.

Medieval Medicine

BBC Teach Medieval Overview:

Ways of death in the West: Medieval Medicine:

Medieval Apocalypse, the Black Death:

Medical Renaissance

BBC Teach Renaissance Overview:

BBC Teach Vesalius Pare and Harvey (Note: Pare is not on the exam):

BBC Teach- 16th and 17th century medicine- including William Harvey:

Medicine in the Industrial Age, c. 1700- c.1900

BBC Teach Eighteenth Century medicine

BBC Teach Nineteenth Century Medicine

BBC Teach Public Health and Cholera (Edwin Chadwick and John Snow0

BBC Teach it Pasteur and Koch- Ideas about the cause of disease:

Medicine in Modern Britain 1900- Present

Fleming, Florey and Chain

BBC Teach Founding of the NHS:

Discovery of DNA:

Overview clips and documentaries:

BBC Bitesize Medicine Through Time:

Impacts of war on medicine and surgery:

History Channel, Human anatomy and medicine:

Getting better, 200 years of medicine: