Science: Revolutions and Evolutions

Subject 136-217 (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:

Semester 2, - 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 per week.
Total Time Commitment: 3 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 9 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any disciplinary areas.
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 Gerhard Wiesenfeldt


Dr Gerhard Wiesenfeldt
Subject Overview: The rise of modern science in early modern Europe (roughly between 1500 and 1750) has had a crucial role for the development of modern society. This subject examines the causes and the consequences of this process. We will study the changes in scientific thought and practice – such as the introduction of the experimental method and practical astronomy or the turn to mechanical philosophy and Copernican Astronomy – and their relation to social, political and religious developments – the emergence of new forms of government, the protestant reformation, the invention of the printing press or the building of colonial empires. We will also discuss the way these processes have been analysed in the past and which explanations have been put forward, why science emerged in early modern Europe and not in other places or other eras. Students who complete this subject will gain an understanding into the processes that made science an integral part of modern society and the way historians can describe the development of science.
Objectives: Students who sucessfully complete this subject will
  • have a profound knowledge of important methods to analyse the historical development of science;
  • understand the complex dynamics of epistemological and cultural factors contributing to changes in science;
  • comprehend the historical dimension of their own knowledge;
  • be able to examine critically intellectual positions and their development.
Assessment: One 2000 word essay 50% (due at the end of semester) and an oral examination 50% (during the examination period).
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be made available.
Recommended Texts: Peter Dear, Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambition, 1500-1700. Princeton 2001.
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: Students who sucessfully complete this subject will
  • develop skills in written and oral communication;
  • conduct independent research;
  • make appropriate use of primary sources and secondary literature in mounting an argument;
  • form defensible judgments on the basis of a critical evaluation of conflicting arguments;
  • put their own position in a historical perspective.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History
History & Philosophy of Science
History && Philosophy of Science Major
History Major
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science

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