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Curricular information is subject to change
On completion of this module students should be able to:
- Assess the role of scientific practice in the development of society from
ancient times to the present.
- Examine the validity of traditional narratives of the history of science and the
Scientific Revolution, and identify important milestones and events.
- Demonstrate understanding of the historiography of the history of science.
Lecture 1. Views of the Cosmos I: Babylon to the Ptolemaic Universe, c.3000 BCE-150 CE: Introduction: What is the History of Science? The Cradles of Civilisation and the emergence of mathematics; Babylonian star catalogues and the origins of western astronomy; models of the universe in Ancient Greece; the Aristotelian worldview
Seminar 1: What is Science? Falsification & Pseudoscience
Lecture 2. The Life Sciences: Ancient Mesopotamia to the Roman Empire, c.350 BCE-c.500 CE: Early medicine and natural science in Asia and Europe; Animal husbandry and care; Babylonian and Egyptian medicine and magic; Aristotle’s biology; teleology and zoology in the Hellenistic period; natural history in the Roman empire, from Lucretius to Galen; human and non-human animals and the tri-partite soul
Seminar 2: Plague in the Ancient World; Cultural Concepts of the Human Body in Ancient Greece and Rome
Lecture 3. Science in the Islamic Golden Age, 786-1258 CE: The decline of the Western Roman Empire; Islam and science in the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates; translating ancient texts into Arabic; medieval Islamic contributions to medicine and mathematics; transmission of knowledge to Europe
Seminar 3: ‘Arab’ vs. ‘Frankish’ Medicine; The Social Construction of Science
Lecture 4. Science and Medicine in the European Middle Ages, c.900-1453 CE: Science in Europe in the middle ages; Greek and Arabic influences; Charlemagne and educational reform; science and the medieval university; rediscovering the classics; medical and veterinary texts; medicine and gynaecology in medieval Salerno; scholasticism
Seminar 4: Medieval Gynaecology and the ‘Secrets of Women’
Lecture 5. New Worlds and New Knowledge, 1492-1650 CE: The European ‘discovery’ of America; understanding a ‘new’ continent and the Columbian Exchange; the printing press and its impact in Europe; sensory experience and the rejection of the Classics; Artisanal Epistemology and The Book of Nature; the anatomy and physiology of Vesalius and Harvey; The Scientific Method and the ‘Scientific Revolution’.
Seminar 5: Bioethics: Animals and Experimentation in the Early Modern Period
Lecture 6. Discovery, Crisis, Revolution? 1543-1687: What is a scientific revolution? Was there a Scientific Revolution in the 16th & 17th centuries? 16th-century concepts of the universe; the heliocentric universe, from Copernicus to Galileo; Rene Descartes and Mechanical Philosophy; Robert Boyle, the air pump, and experimentalism; what is the legacy of Isaac Newton?
Seminar 6: Writing the Midterm Essay
Lecture 7. Enlightenment and Empire, c.1700-1815: Science, scientism, and the Enlightenment; the Newtonian worldview and European society; the influence of scientific societies and academies in England and France; science as a tool of social reform; insanity, neurology, and the emergence of psychiatry; science and empire; the Chemical Revolution; science and the Industrial Revolution: a relationship?
Seminar 7: Science and Race in the Enlightenment; the Roots of Scientific Racism
Lecture 8. Uncovering the Ancient Earth: the Origins of Geology, the Darwinian Revolution, and Biology in the Modern Age c.1750-1953: debates on the age of the Earth; natural history in the 19th century; Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and 19th-century evolutionary theory; Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection; On the Origin of Species; the aftermath of Darwin; social Darwinism and Eugenics in Europe and America; Mendel and the emergence of genetics; DNA and the double helix
Seminar 8: Gender and Science in the 19th century
Lecture 9. The Making of ‘Modern’ Science, from the Atom to the Big Bang, c.1800-c.1960:
Classifying scientific disciplines; the end of the ‘gentleman scholar’ and the birth of the scientist; the dawn of modern atomic theory; the discovery of the electron; Marie Curie and radioactivity; Relativity and Quantum Mechanics; the bomb; Edwin Hubble and the expanding universe; Steady State vs. the Big Bang; the afterglow of creation
Seminar 9: Science and War
Lecture 10. Microbiology, Immunology, and the Therapeutic Revolution, 1750 to the present: Theories of contagion, 16th-19th centuries; Leeuwenhoek’s ‘Little Animals’; the origins of variolation and vaccination; Louis Pasteur and micro-organisms; Germ Theory of Disease: Cholera, Anthrax, and Rabies; Robert Koch and Bacteriology; mechanisms of immunity; Antibiotics and the drugs revolution; a Therapeutic Revolution for whom? Disease and epidemics as social events
Seminar 10: Animals, Science, and Society, 19th-20th centuries
Lecture 11. Environment, Climate Change, and Pandemic, 1800 to the present: 18th-century precursors to environmentalism; Empire, industry, and nature in the 19th century; Environmentalism in the 19th and 20th centuries; Climatology, 19th century to the present; One Medicine, One Health; environment, disease, and pandemics in the modern age; science and the anti-science movement: a uniquely modern phenomenon?
Seminar 11: Writing the End-of-Semester Essay
|Student Effort Type||Hours|
|Seminar (or Webinar)||
|Specified Learning Activities||
|Autonomous Student Learning||
Not applicable to this module.
|Description||Timing||Component Scale||% of Final Grade|
|Assignment: 2,000 word essay||Coursework (End of Trimester)||n/a||Graded||No||
|Continuous Assessment: Class participation||Throughout the Trimester||n/a||Graded||No||
|Essay: 1,000 word essay||Varies over the Trimester||n/a||Graded||No||
|Remediation Type||Remediation Timing|
|Repeat||Within Two Trimesters|
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
Feedback on the mid-term Essay Plan Assignment is given in writing on the returned hard-copy. Feedback on the end-of-semester Essay Assignment is given by appointment in one-to-one meetings.
|Lecture||Offering 1||Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks||Tues 16:00 - 17:50|
|Lecture||Offering 1||Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33||Tues 16:00 - 17:50|