The Western Tradition & its Discontents

Subject HPSC40013 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 2, 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: One 3 Hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: An average of 10 hours per week
Prerequisites: Usually admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours, or a postgraduate course work program.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: Knowledge gained in successful completion of an undergraduate degree
Non Allowed Subjects: This subject was previously offered as 161-484. Students who have completed 161-484 are not eligible 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 :

Subject Overview:

Since the Renaissance many scholars and scientist have considered themselves as part of a tradition based on principles set out in Greek and Roman antiquity and reestablished in early modern Europe. While this tradition is still prevalent both in academic and in broader culture as providing the identity of "the West", it has drawn substantial criticism as it is often connoted with the idea of a supposed superiority of the Western civilization over others, not the least because it was within this tradition that modern science emerged. This subject will study the history of this tradition and its different interpretations. It will focus on different images and references in both "West" (or "Occident") and "East"(or "Orient"), how different developments (from the role of Islamic culture in transmission of Greek knowledge to the role of oriental studies for early modern science) have been ignored in interpretations of the Western tradition and whether the concept of the Western Tradition inherently contains a notion of superiority. On completion students will gain an historically founded understanding of the role of the Western tradition in contemporary scholarship and politics in shaping cultural identities.


Students who successfully complete this subject should

  • have developed research skills.
  • have developed critical thinking and analysis.
  • be able to think in theoretical terms.
  • be able to understand social, ethical and cultural contexts.
  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically.
Assessment: One 5000 word essay (due during examination period)
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the Bookroom at the beginning of semester.

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 subject should

  • have developed written communication skills.
  • have developed public speaking skills.
  • have developed good time management and planning.
  • be able to work as a team
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science
History && Philosophy of Science

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