A History of Nature

Subject 136-035 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

January, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A two hour lecture and a one hour tutorial per day during the teaching period
Total Time Commitment: 15 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 21 hours per week for 2 weeks.
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any discipline area.
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


Ms Sara Maroske


Dr Sara Maroske


Subject Overview: This subject traces some of the historical changes in scientific and environmental thought that occurred over the last 500 years, as Europeans spread out from the continent during the voyages of discovery, and discovered new frontiers that challenged their scientific and social beliefs. We will especially follow the changes in the environmental sciences that accompanied these voyages as notions of geography, natural history, evolutionary biology, geology and ecology were transformed. We will also examine some recent examples of new understandings of 'nature'. Case studies will include America, Australia, and other parts of the colonial world including the Pacific islands. Environmental issues ranging from introduced species, sustainability, resource management, pollution, overpopulation, environmental engineering and environmental philosophies will also be examined. This subject should be of interest to students who would like to learn more about the origins of the environmental sciences and our ongoing attempts to live within a changing environment.
  • demonstrate a general knowledge of the historical changes in scientific thought that occurred over the last 500 years as a response to European colonial expansion.
  • develop an appreciation of the main changes in the environmental sciences as well as intellectual, philosophical, cultural and aesthetic influences and responses of Europeans to landscape, flora, fauna and indigenous human beings.
  • demonstrate an awareness of some of the cultural changes which accompanied new scientific understandings.
  • gain experience in independent research.
  • A further aim of the subject is to develop broader skills in historical understanding and analysis of debates. You will be exposed in this subject to arguments among historians and scientists, and will be expected to consider why they differ and how you can make your own judgements about their arguments. You will be asked to learn how to read and interpret documents of various kinds as historical sources. You will be expected to develop an understanding of a variety of environmental and philosophical concepts. Finally, you will be expected to exercise the technical skills involved in writing history.
Assessment: A document exercise of 1000 words 20%, a research essay of 3000 words 70% (both due during the examination period), class participation and contribution 10%. A hurdle requirement of attendance at nine tutorials.
Prescribed Texts: A reading pack will be available for purchase from the University Book Shop.
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
Generic Skills:
  • develop skills in written and oral communication.
  • conduct independent research.
  • make appropriate use of primary and secondary sources in mounting an argument.
  • form defensible judgements based on a critical evaluation of conflicting arguments.

Formerly available as 136-215/315. Students who have completed 136-215/315 Historical Encounters in a Changing Environment are not eligible to enrol in this subject. For science third year, see HPSC30005 (A History of Nature (Science 3)).

This subject is available for science credit for students enrolled in the BSc (pre-2008 degree only), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc).

Related Course(s): Diploma in Arts (Environmental Studies)
Diploma in Arts (History and Philosophy of Science
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies Major
History & Philosophy of Science
History && Philosophy of Science Major
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science

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