Minds and Madness

Subject HPSC30019 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2014:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1 x 1hr Online lecture per week; 11 x 2hr workshops from week 2-week 12
Total Time Commitment:

An average of 8.5 hours each week.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr James Bradley


Dr James Bradley


Subject Overview:

What is the mind? What does it mean for the mind to malfunction? And how should it be treated when this occurs? "Minds and Madness" provides an historical over-view of responses to these questions by patients, medical practitioners and society as a whole. Once considered the seat of the soul, the human mind has been captured by science, reduced to a brain "a hard-wired" neural network. Metaphysical explanations of madness (theological and magical) have been superseded by scientific theories (neurological and material), thus reshaping our understanding and experience of madness. Therapies have been transformed accordingly. In exploring these important issues, the lectures will visit the spaces and places of "Minds and Madness", including: the ship of fools, Bedlam, the asylum, the psychiatrist"s couch and the GPs rooms, the battlefield, the dissection table, the operating theatre, and the padded cell. It will introduce students to a cast of thousands, including: the fool (from King Lear and elsewhere), Descartes ("Cogito Ergo Sum") and Spinoza, Gall and Spurzheim (the founders of phrenology), Freud, Jung and many other psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists. It will analyse and critique changing conceptions of mental health diagnosis. And finally, it will delve into the new world of the brain where the neurological sciences, artificial intelligence and philosophy have merged into the discipline of Cognitive Science.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this subject, students are expected to possess:

  • an effective grasp of the history and historiography of minds, madness and medicine
  • a sound critical ability, enabling the effective analysis and synthesis of subject materials
  • the ability to form and express a clear and sophisticated opinion about minds, madness and medicine both to experts and interested outsiders
  • the ability to extend learning beyond subject materials, enhancing independent research skills, and thus gaining valuable tools for life-learning, and
  • knowledge and experience that address significant aspects of the University‚Äôs graduate attributes, especially academic excellence, knowledge across disciplines, leadership in communities, and being attuned to cultural diversity


Portfolio based upon work undertaken during weekly workshops, as well as out of class engagement with social media and other online forums (2000 words - 50%) due end of teaching; reflective review essay (2000 words - 50%) due during the examination period.

Hurdle requirement: students must attend a minimum of 75% of workshops in order to pass this subject. Regular participation in workshops is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day; after five working days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Madness: A Brief History (R Porter) Oxford University Press 2003

Subject readings will be available online

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • Critical and analytical
  • Communication (written work, through assessments, and oral presentations during the workshops)
  • Engagement (with real world ideas and problems)
  • Teamwork / Collaboration (during workshops)
  • Cultural and Social Alignment of values (through an understanding the complexities of the mind and mental illness)

Links to further information: http://hps.unimelb.edu.au/
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science (pre-2008 Bachelor of Science)
History and Philosophy of Science Major
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses

Download PDF version.