From Plato to Einstein

Subject 136-111 (2009)

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

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - 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: Two 1-hour lectures and a 1 hour tutorial
Total Time Commitment: 3 contact hours/week, 5 additional hours/week. Total of 8 hours per week.
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:


Dr Kristian Camilleri


Dr Kristian Camilleri

Subject Overview: In this subject, we embark on a fascinating journey through the history of science, exploring changing ideas about the physical world from antiquity to the present day. Beginning with the birth of natural philosophy in Ancient Grecce in the sixth century B.C., this subject traces the transforming image of the cosmos from the religious and magical outlook of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to the birth of modern science in th sevententh century and the secular vision of the Enlightenment. Our story concludes with the dramatic shift in our understanding of the universe that took place in the twentieth century. Of particular interest will be the way in which thinkers in the Western tradition like Plato, Aristotle, Kepler, Newton, and Einstein have shaped our understanding of the physical world. We cover such topics as: ancient Greek theories of matter; Renaissance magic and science; and the history of attempts to understand the nature of gravity. Students taking this subject will gain a wide ranging introduction of the history of science and an appreciation of the way in which it has been shaped by wider cultural and intellectual movements.
  • have an understanding of the major conceptual shifts that occurred in the history of physical thought;
  • appreciate the way in which different intellectual and cultural movements such as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment helped to shape peopleÂ’s views about the cosmos;
  • become aware of the difficulties in understanding the thoughts and attitudes of people historically remote from us;
  • have practice at writing clear, coherent and persuasive analyses of ambiguous and difficult issues
Assessment: An essay of 2000 words 50% (due at the beginning of the examination period) and two class tests 25% each (one due mid-semester and the other in the second last week of semester).
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader 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:
  • Engage in critical reflection about the past and its connection to the present
  • Develop skills in written and oral communication
  • Conduct independent research
  • Make use of appropriate primary and secondary sources in mounting an argument
  • Form defensible judgments on the basis of a critical evaluation of arguments in the secondary literature

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 (History and Philosophy of Science
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History & Philosophy of Science
History && Philosophy of Science Major
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science

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