At Queen’s over 3 decades, I taught hundreds of medical students, hundreds of Philosophy and History students, dozens of nursing students, law students, and graduate students in several different disciplines.

Some of the courses are described below.

In helping students write essays and facilitating my efforts at marking, I developed a list of my writing allergies, which I put here in case it is useful to someone else.


Medical Students  

(for Arts & Science and Graduate supervisions see below)

Meds 2017 takes its class photo

Core curriculum

An infiltrative approach with essay assignments and/or at least one question on every exam.

Basic outline in 2016-2017.

Main objectives:

  1. to demonstrate that history is a research discipline of use to clinical medicine and public health–activist history;
  2. to make the future doctors skeptical about everything else that they are being taught.

My book, History of Medicine: A Scandalously Short Introduction was written to support this teaching and is dedicated to my medical students (1st edition 1999; second edition 2010; third edition 2021).

Peer-reviewed articles by J. Duffin about medical-student teaching.


  • Independent research projects
  • Field Trips
  • History of Medicine PBL (offered on demand)
  • Medical Movie Madness
  • Hannah Happenings
  • Images of Doctors and Lawyers in Fiction (Law 570). For an article on this course taught for many years with Mark Weisberg, click here.


The AMS Boyd Upper Prize recognizes the contributions to history of Medicine of Queen’s grad, Dr Boyd Upper (MD 1953) and is awarded to students who have had papers accepted for peer-reviewed meetings.  Most of these research projects emerged from core curriculum work, either for the community based project or the Critical Enquiry Elective. Many were presented at Calgary’s History of Medicine Days conference or at the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine.  Past winners from 1998 to 2017 are here.


Arts and Science students, grads and undergrads

Philosophy 201 Medicine and Philosophy. A syllabus.

Philosophy 401/801 Critical Issues in Medical Epistemology. My book Lovers and Livers (2005) was inspired by teaching these two courses.

History 482/882 Historiography of Medicine. A syllabus.

History 488/884/ Philosophy 871 The Nobel Prize: Who Won It? Who Didn’t? & Why? A syllabus.

Phil 201 with Prof Brown (Chemistry) October 2015

Historiography seminar in 2005 with historian John Burnham (1929-2017)

Nobel Prize course 2010

Graduate Supervision

5 PhD; 13 Masters and 13 other supervisory committees.

For details, click here.

Casey Hurrell picks up her PhD 2015 with cosupervisor Tim Smith

Members of Meds 2020 meet art therapist Beth Robinson, November 2017