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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC2307 Science, Culture and Society in the Industrial Age

20 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Polina Merkulova

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces

HPSC 2302 Technological Change in HistoryHPSC2305 Introduction to Technological Change in History

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

How did science become so important in our culture? What forces have transformed it over the last two centuries from the pursuit of amateur gentlemen to one of the most powerful enterprises in modern society? This module addresses these questions by surveying key developments in the physical, biological and human sciences since 1800. Throughout we will focus on the links between scientific development and wider cultural and industrial changes, examining how the sciences have affected and been affected by society.


The module is designed to teach students to:

• understand the long-run history of the sciences in their cultural and industrial contexts since the early 19th century;
• analyse the role of some particular sciences as exemplifying key themes in the nexus of science, culture and industry; and
• appreciate how scientific change in a given period can be related to contemporary changes in culture and industry.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, students should be able to

• summarize major trends in the history of the modern sciences and their industrial contexts and consequences;
• evaluate historical perspectives on the rise of particular sciences as exemplifying the interaction of science, industry and culture; and
• integrate knowledge of the history of modern science with knowledge of other aspects of modern history.


The module examines the origin of modern science in the nineteenth century by focusing on developments in individual sciences (such as geology, physiology, natural history, electricity, thermodynamics, anthropology, and biology) and on changes in the organization of science (such as the rise of popular science, the professionalization of science, and the rise of universities as key locations for science).

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Required Reading (6 hours/week)
Reading Lecture Notes and Preparing for Seminars (3 hours/week)
Further Reading and Essay Preparation (90 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Participation in tutorials.
Discussion in module leader’s Office Hours.
Students will have the opportunity to submit 1,000 word essay plan for feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 words (end of module)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 07/01/2022


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