A History of Nature (Science 3)

Subject HPSC30005 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

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

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 (1 x 2 hour lecture each day and 1 x 1 hour tutorial each day over the two week teaching period 31st January to 11th February 2011.)
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: at least two of the following subjects (25 points) must be completed before enrolling in HPSC30002:

HPSC20001 Darwinism

HPSC20010 Intimacy and Technology

HPSC20020 God and the Natural Sciences

PHIL20001 Science, Reason and Reality

HPSC20009 Cybersociety

HPSC20015 Astronomy in World History

Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: Knowledge gained in completing at least 2 HPS subjects at level 2.
Non Allowed Subjects: Students who have completed 'A History of nature' under the codes 136-035, 136-335, 672-317 or HPSC20002 are not permitted to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements: For the purposes of considering request 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/


Dr Sara Maroske


Subject Overview:

This subject traces some of the changes in scientific thought about our environment in the western world over the last 500 years. As Europeans spread out from their continent in the fifteenth century, they discovered new environments that challenged their received wisdom about themselves and their relationship to nature. We will trace developments in emerging natural sciences such as astronomy, natural history, evolutionary biology, geology and ecology. Case studies will be drawn from the Europe and its colonies and focus on questions relating to the shape of the universe, the classification of organisms, animal rights, acclimatisation, evolution, eugenics, and sustainable living. 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 subject will:

  • demonstrate a knowledge of changes in scientific thought about nature that have occurred in the western world over the last 500 years.
  • demonstrate an awareness of the explanations given by historians for these new scientific understandings.
  • gain experience in independent research by:

o learning how to read and interpret documents and various other kinds of historical sources,

o by developing an understanding of key scientific and philosophical concepts,

o by critiquing arguments made by different historians,

o by drawing and defending your own conclusions,

o and by gaining a correct knowledge of the documentation and citation techniques used in the writing of 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 a minimum attendance at 75% of tutorials applies in this subject. Regular participation in tutorials is required. All set assignments must be submitted in order to pass this subject.
Prescribed Texts:

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

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: https://handbook.unimelb.edu.au/view/2011/755-BB
Notes: Only available at Science third year. This subject is based on HPSC20002 but involves additional work. 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). This subject is not available as Breadth.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science (pre-2008 Bachelor of Science)
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses

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