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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC1046 Introduction to the History of Science

10 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Prof. Graeme Gooday

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The modern world is dominated by science and technology, yet it was not always so; for instance, the investigation of nature (not then called science) was originally part of philosophy. This module explores how modern science came into being, as a way of introducting you to the history of science and of exploring its wider historical connections. The questions to be addressed will typically include: When and how did modern science come into being? Is modern science a single entity, or is it divided into distinct sciences? How has science come to be regarded as authoritative? Throughout the module, we will be looking at the different ways that historians have approached such issues, and you will be introduced to selected relevant primary sources (of a non-technical kind). No prior knowledge of science is necessary or assumed.


The module will introduce students (a) to the fact that science has a history; (b) to the complexity of that history; and (c) to the range of interpretations which that history has received. It will do so by (i) outlining key episodes in the history of science; (ii) guiding students in the interpretation of selected relevant primary source-material; and (iii) incorporating historiographic debates throughout.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of some key developments in the history of science;
2. Critically evaluate claims about the history of science;
3. \Interpret historical evidence concerning the history of science.

Skills outcomes
Historical analytical skills.


This module examines the key features of the history of science. It will typically focus on long-term changes (e.g. the Scientific Revolution), on a set of themed case studies, or on an extended historical case study (e.g. the Darwinian revolution).

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours84.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

11 hours reading over and supplementing lecture notes (1hr/week x 11)
25 hours reading and preparing for tutorials (5 hrs/tutorial x 5)
36 hours essay preparation
12 hours short answer paper preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive feedback on their short answer essay and and in fortnightly class discussion.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1500 words (end of the module)75.00
Assignmentx1 500 word short answer (mid-module)25.00
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: 29/04/2022 15:26:26


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