Online course in Health & Psychology

Health and Wellbeing in the Ancient World

Discover what healthcare was like in ancient Greece and the Roman world with this free online course.

Health and Wellbeing in the Ancient World

  • Duration 6 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Certificate Available

Why join the course?

What did being healthy in ancient Rome or Greece look like? How can we tell what wellbeing meant in ancient times? This course will help you investigate the health of people in ancient Greece and Rome, using both literary and archaeological evidence to uncover details of real life in ancient societies.

Explore ancient life through primary evidence

This course is designed to challenge simplistic approaches which apply modern distinctions to the ancient world. Instead you’ll go back to the start and look at the primary evidence on which all modern assumptions are based. You’ll examine different objects closely, learning what each item can tell us about life in ancient times.

Understand ancient theories by examining the body

On the course we’ll divide the body up into organs and systems, using each as a starting point to explore ancient theories of the structure and function of the human body, and other aspects of ancient life.

We’ll discover ancient Greece and Rome in full, from the public to the personal, and from army and urban life to the lived experience of women and children. Using the evidence on the hair and face, the eyes, the digestive system, the organs of reproduction and the feet you’ll explore topics with which our society still wrestles, including the location of the ‘self’; the relationship between mind and body; identity; food and drink; sanitation; sexuality, ageing and gender.

Improve your critical and analytical abilities

Through the course you’ll develop some of the skills needed in the study of classics and history including:

  • Improving your ability to critically analyse primary sources
  • Learning to analyse complex problems based on fragmentary evidence
  • Developing your ability to engage with contemporary interpretations and scholarly debates.

For a taste of what will be covered in this course, read this post from Lead Educator, Helen King.

What topics will you cover?

  • What is health ? Ancient and modern perspectives on health and disease
  • Medicine, religion and magic
  • Using online resources
  • Vision: theories of sight, approaches to eye disease, including drugs and surgery
  • Body modifications
  • Diet and digestion
  • Human waste: using evidence from toilets and sewers
  • Conception and birth: theories and practices
  • Ideal bodies and disabled bodies
  • The health of the army: recruiting and treating soldiers

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced
Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Develop confidence in exploring the variety of fields that constitute classical studies.
  • Explore and become familiar with open-access resources for classical studies.
  • Develop the ability to critically analyse primary sources.
  • Apply and gain skills in analysing complex problems based on fragmentary evidence.
  • Engage with contemporary interpretations and scholarly debates.

Who is the course for?

There are no special requirements for this course, but an interest in the ancient world or classics might be useful.

Who will you learn with?

Helen King

Helen King

I'm Professor Emerita in Classical Studies at The Open University. My main research interests are in the history of medicine and I'm passionate about extending access to learning for everyone.

Who developed the course?

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning, with a mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas.

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate and transcript

You can buy a Certificate of Achievement for this course — a personalised certificate and transcript in both digital and printed formats, to prove what you’ve learnt. A Statement of Participation is also available for this course.

Certificate of Achievement + transcript $69.00

Statement of Participation $39.00