• The Open University

Health and Wellbeing in the Ancient World

Use literary and archaeological evidence to see how ancient Greeks and Romans approached health, well-being and societal issues.

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An ancient stone carving depicting a doctor treating a patient
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Understand Greek and Roman approaches to health and well-being

What did being healthy in ancient Rome or Greece look like? How can we tell what well-being meant in ancient times?

This online course will help you investigate these questions, using both literary and archaeological evidence, to uncover details of real life in ancient societies.

We will divide the body up into organs and systems, using each to explore ancient theories on the structure and function of the human body.

We will discover what ancient societies thought about topics that we still wrestle with today – from the relationship between mind and body, to sexuality, ageing and gender.

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?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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?

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.

I have an interest in sensory studies, and how this helps us to understand human experience in the ancient Roman world. See more at: http://www.open.ac.uk/people/eb2278

Who developed the course?

The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

    1969
  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020
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  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Buy this course

$69

One-off payment

Unlock your expertise

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

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  • Limited access to course content for 6 weeks

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