Science: Revolutions and Evolutions

Subject HPSC30034 (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:

Semester 1, 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


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: An average of 9 hours each week
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any disciplinary areas.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: No specific background knowledge is required for this subject
Non Allowed Subjects: This subjects was previously offered at 2nd year level with the code 136-217. Students who have completed 136-217 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 :


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. It was intertwined with other fundamental changes in European culture, politics, and economy, such as the emergence of new forms of government, the protestant reformation, the invention of the printing press or the building of colonial empires. This subject examines the causes, the dynamics and the consequences of the processes that produced the social activity we call science. Focusing on a few paradigmatic cases, we will study the changes in scientific thought and practice - such as the introduction of the experimental method, the turn to mechanical philosophy and Copernican Astronomy - and their relation to social, political and religious developments. 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.


Students who successfully 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 available from the University bookshop at the beginning of semester.

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 successfully 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.

Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History && Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science Major

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