Darwinism: history of a very big idea

Subject HPSC20001 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 34 hours - 1 x 1 hour online lecture per week; 11 x 2hr workshops in week 2-week 12
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr James Bradley


Email: jbradley@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

Ideas don't come much bigger than Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection. Few books have had as large an impact as On the Origin of Species, published in 1859. In this subject we will not only explore the history of the idea of evolution before and after Darwin, we will analyse the impact his theory has had upon our world, exploring how Darwin and his followers not only transformed our understanding of the origins and development of life, but also our views of race, gender and religion. After Darwin, disciplines as diverse as anthropology, biology and philosophy would never be the same again.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this subject, students will:

  • demonstrate a wide knowledge of Darwin and Darwinism, including the scientific, social and cultural reach of evolutionary ideas;
  • synthesise, analyse and assess academic and other arguments about Darwin and Darwinism, and contextualise these arguments within the broader realms of the history and philosophy of science;
  • create effective arguments, backed up by convincing evidence, about the impact of Darwin and Darwinism upon science, society and culture;
  • develop high level research skills, including the ability to extend you knowledge-base beyond subject materials using web-based search tools;
  • express effective arguments about the importance of Darwin and Darwinism both to experts and interested non-experts;
  • develop effective communication and presentation skills (written and oral), and the ability to collaborate constructively within the classroom;
  • demonstrate ethical integrity in written work and classroom activities, including a deep ethical engagement with evolutionary ideas and their impact.
  • A 500 word literature review, due in week 6 (12.5%)
  • A portfolio and 1500 word exegesis, due in week 12 (37.5%)
  • A 2000 word critical review, due in the end od semester examination period (50%) (due during the examination period)

Hurdle requirement:

  • Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted in order to pass this subject.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five working days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.
Regular participation in tutorials is required.

Prescribed Texts:

Subject readings will be available online

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information: http://shaps.unimelb.edu.au/history-philosophy-science
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Graduate Certificate in Arts - History and Philosophy of Science
Graduate Diploma in Arts - History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
Related Breadth Track(s): Science and its Margins
Understanding Nature

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