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The period from the beginning of the sixteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century saw the emergence of modern science. During this time, European ideas about the natural world underwent a series of significant, and sometimes quite dramatic, changes. Some of these, like the shift from the earth-centred to the sun‐centred cosmos have been labelled scientific revolutions. Others, such as the gradual realisation that the history of life on earth stretches back millions of years seem less spectacular by comparison, but were no less significant. In this subject, we examine the historical conditions under which this restructuring of knowledge and new ‘ways of knowing’ emerged.
We examine questions like: What did Copernican astronomy owe to Islamic thought? What impact did changing socio-economic conditions in Europe and the discovery of the New World have on the rise of early modern science? How did social and political ideologies of the nineteenth century shape the rise of statistical thinking? How was Darwin’s theory of evolution received in Russia and Germany? Students will gain a deeper understanding of the complex and often surprising ways in which the rise of modern science has been shaped by wider social, political, and cultural contexts.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who successfully complete this subject should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of major conceptual shifts in the history of science
- Clearly identify different 'ways of knowing' that emerged in the modern era
- Demonstrate an understanding of the different ways in which knowledge is shaped by the wider intellectual, social and economic context
- Present clear, coherent and persuasive analyses of complex and difficult historical episodes.
- Critical thinking
- Analysis and assessment of arguments
- Oral and written communication skills
- Constructive collaboration and measured disagreement
- Confidence in voicing an informed opinion.
Last updated: 1 March 2024