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Household and Social Science Department

Students in the Department of Household & Social Science at King's College for Women, 1916 (Ref: Q/PH1/1)Students in the Department of Household & Social Science at King's College for Women, 1916 (Ref: Q/PH1/1)Initially the Department of Household and Social Science at King's College for Women offered one programme; a Three Year Course involving the study of chemistry, biology, physics, physiology and bacteriology as pure sciences. This knowledge was then adapted and applied to the affairs of everyday life and to household processes, the practical aspects of which were taught in the College kitchens.

The curriculum included many topics, such as detergents, textiles, food and fuels, which following the outbreak of war became universally recognised as of fundamental importance. In 1916, the Three Year Course was approved by the University of London and renamed the Diploma in Household and Social Science, with the first examinations taking place in 1918. From 1920, the course was available as the University of London BSc in Household and Social Science.

Student at work in the laboratory, c1915 (Ref: Q/PH3/9)Student at work in the laboratory, c1915 (Ref: Q/PH3/9)From 1915, the College also offered a One Year Course for postgraduate students leading to a College Diploma. This included classes in chemistry, biology, physiology, nutrition and economics, both socially and in relation to the home, with instruction also provided in household work. This was followed in 1916 by the development of a special one-year course in Household Management, designed to meet the needs of students wishing to prepare themselves for home life, and known informally as the Brides’ course. Primarily intended for school leavers and young women, the course sought to stimulate interest in, and knowledge of, matters of importance in both domestic and public life. The course led to a noticeable rise in student intake during 1916, although it was noted that the effects of war also impressed on many women the importance of receiving instruction in household economy and cookery.

Building a camp oven, 1915 (Ref: Q/PH3/6)Building a camp oven, 1915 (Ref: Q/PH3/6)Over subsequent years, despite the outbreak of war, the curriculum of the College continued to grow. From 1918 a two year course for Social and Public Health workers was available, this being the first in the country to combine health subjects with social study. This included collaboration with local authorities for the instruction of students in the practical side of child welfare work whilst tuberculosis was studied under staff at the Hammersmith Dispensary. Known also as the Health Visitors' course, training was discontinued in 1921 following a post-war fall in entries and uncertainty regarding future career opportunities.

Additionally established in 1918 was the Sister Tutor’s Course, a scholarship scheme from the College of Nursing, which offered places within the Household and Social Science Department for trained nurses seeking teaching experience, either for instructing probationers or for lecturing purposes in a hospital training school. Scholarships were available for the course from the College of Nursing and the Nightingale Fund, although many students also took the training under their own initiative. Other courses available during this period included the One Year Course in Applied Science, which provided scientific education to complement existing technical training, and from 1921 the College added a Two Year Course in Institutional Administration, covering science, household work, social economics and business affairs.

For more images of the Household and Social Science Department at King's College for Women, see our gallery.

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