A History of Nature (Science 3)

Subject HPSC30005 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

January, Parkville - 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

non standard - intensive

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 0ne 2 hour Lecture and one 1hour tutorial per day over the two week teaching period. The teaching period begins on Tuesday 5th January and concludes Monday 18th January 2010
Total Time Commitment: in addition to the contact time an average of 8.5 hours a week should be spent during the assessment period
Prerequisites: Two second year HPS subjects
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: No specific background knowledge is required for this subject.
Non Allowed Subjects: 136-215/315 Historical Encounters in a Changing Environment This subject was previously available as a 3rd year subject with the code 672-317. Students who have completed 672-317 or 136-215 or 136-315 are not permitted to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website : http://www.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.


Students who successfully complete this subjects will:

  • 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: Written work totalling 6000 words for third-year Science students comprising document exercise of 1000 words 20% due 25th January 2010, a research essay of 3000 words 50% due 8th February 2010, a 2000-word project on an advanced topic 20% due 15th February 2010. Class participation and contribution 10%. A hurdle requirement of attendance at eight tutorials.
Prescribed Texts:

A reading pack will be available for purchase from the University Book Shop in December 2009.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subjects will:

  • 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.
Links to further information: http://www.pasi.unimelb.edu.au/hps/
Notes: For second year, see 136035(A History of Nature). 136035 is available for 2nd year science credit for students enrolled in the BSc (pre-2008 degree only), or a combined BSc course (except for the BA/BSc).
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science

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