Andree Bagley

Aspects of Children's Medicine in the Roman Empire.

The research investigates the differences between the medical treatment of infants and children as opposed to that of adults in the Roman world. Graeco-Roman medical treatises and other literary genres, supplemented by archaeological evidence, are used in an attempt to reconstruct the nature of therapies available to non-adults. Additional questions are raised concerning ancient concepts of the pathophysiological differences between mature and immature individuals and how these influenced theoretical and practical aspects of the management of diseases occurring in the young.

Alistair Ritch

Thesis: Medical Care in the Workhouses in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, 1839-1912

It will be a thematic micro-study of nineteenth-century workhouse medicine in two institutions in large industrial centres in the West Midlands, allowing a comparison of medical practice in similar urban settings. It will cover the full range of physical and mental disease and disability within these institutions, but concentrate on adult inmates. The historical approach will be a synthesis of social medicine and cultural history, incorporating ‘history from below’ where possible. Instances where the ‘voices’ of patients receiving medical care, nurses and individual workhouse medical officers can be heard will be highlighted.

Avril Ishmael


The Professional Identity of Lunatic Asylum Attendants 1840 – 1914: their influence on the cultural dimension of the institution

Within the history of British psychiatry, the evolution of mental nursing is an under-researched subject. Contemporaneous depictions of nineteenth-century asylum attendants were often negative, with the allegedly dissolute nature of their character and conduct often brought in to question. A number of historians have asserted that attendants were recruited from the lowest social groups, and that asylum work was seen as a temporary or ‘last resort’ occupation. However, despite attendants being of considerable interest for reasons of abuse or cruelty, the more nuanced aspects of their work, roles, and sense of professional identity remain a relatively hidden dimension. This thesis will introduce my current research on whether a ‘cultural agency’ existed among attendants. Focussing initially on Horton Road Asylum in Gloucester, I aim to explore the extent to which asylum workers participated in creating their own imaginative, influential and material worlds within the shared experience of the workplace. I intend to re-examine the previous histories of asylum work, by exploring the possibility that attendants possessed a discernible moral and compassionate dimension to their role, constituting a key aspect in humane patient care and recovery. 

Lesley Smith

Sexual behaviour in Reformation England

I am researching sexual behaviour in Reformation England, with particular reference to beliefs and practices concerning conception. The study will focus on the preparation of the body to attempt to conceive and birth a healthy male child.

Contemporary published works such as medical treatises and advice handbooks provide the basis of the research, along with analysis of the rituals and beliefs that were thought to assist in the process.

Tom Harrison

The Ingrebourne Centre (1957 – 2002): The Vicissitudes of a Therapeutic Community during the second half of the Twentieth Century.

PhD Research Project (Part-Time) Dr. Tom Harrison

Since Homo Sapiens first lived communally, humans have struggled with the resulting exigencies of social interaction. Not every individual manages this satisfactorily, and in consequence many become labelled as mentally disordered, or criminal. Community based therapies attempt to resolve this disjunction. These approaches fly in the face of accepted traditional treatments, moving away from the standard dyadic expert/naïve-recipient model of care. They have had mixed fortunes during the past 70 years of their functioning, at present those in the National Health Service have virtually disappeared and many in the voluntary and private sector are under threat.

They are institutions that inspire great loyalty and enthusiasm from those who participate in them, and the recent closures have left many people concerned about the future of mental health care in this country. How valid is this? What are the reasons for their closure? What role have they played in influencing mental health care in general? These are all questions that underlie the present research which is into one particular institution near London.

The subject of this research, the Ingrebourne Centre, was set up, in Romford, Essex, as a therapy unit for people suffering from neurotic difficulties in 1957. The consultant psychiatrists in charge of the unit, Richard Crocket and Hamish Anderson, through the introduction of group methods enabled its rapid evolution into a therapeutic community. Some of the participants were instrumental in founding the Mental Patients Union. It continued in operation until 2002, and thus reflects the history of therapeutic communities in the UK as a whole.

Underlying the many definitions, and theories, concerning therapeutic communities there is a poorly recognised conflict between their role as social environments and their ‘therapeutic’ function. The aim is to try and understand the different challenges; both within and without, that initially enabled Ingrebourne’s development, and then led to its demise. By using this as an example it will be possible to draw some conclusions about similar units elsewhere.

Christine Gowing... 

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in British nursing practice, 1948-2000

This research project examines approximately fifty years of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and questions the extent to which nurses practised it in this period – and their rationale for doing so. Through interviews and archival material, the study examines the relationship between CAM and biomedicine from the earliest days of the NHS and considers CAM’s changing status in healthcare provision. It encompasses themes of regulation, terminology, professionalisation, autonomy, training, the effect of healthcare technology, ideas about the body, the therapeutic relationship and the zeitgeist of self-help and alternativism in the closing decades of the twentieth century.


A list of completed graduate work can be found here