Magic, Reason, New Worlds, 1450-1750

Subject HPSC30034 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

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

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2x 1-hour lectures each week and 1x 1-hour tutorial for 11 weeks)
Total Time Commitment:

An average of 9 hours each week





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


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:


Dr Gerhard Wiesenfeldt

Prof Trevor Burnard

Subject Overview:

This subject is a history of the intellectual, social, political and economic processes that produced the 'modern world' of the late eighteenth century. With a focus that is global rather than local, the subject deals with the European encounter with other parts of the world and the way encounters, conflicts, and colonisation related to the rise of modern science. It explores the many ways in which different peoples in different worlds interacted and asks how important these encounters were in shaping the making of the modern world, from immediately before Columbus went to the Americas in 1492 to just before the Seven Years' War and the beginning of the Age of Revolutions. It puts special emphasis on looking at both “magic” and “reason” and seeing whether the rise of science means that magic was replaced or not by the advent of knowledge regimes based on reason.

Note: This subject is jointly taught by the History and History and Philosophy of Science disciplines and is an elective in both majors.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • be able to reflect critically on the complexities of periodization in History;
  • demonstrate familiarity with the major intellectual, social and political developments of the period from the fifteenth through to the eighteenth centuries;.
  • understand the complex interaction between different forms of experience that contributed to the emergence of the modern science;
  • be able to examine critically intellectual positions and their historical development.
  • demonstrate an ability to analyse primary and secondary material in writing about the past.

A document analysis 1000 words 30% (due early semester), a tutorial journal 500 words 15% (due mid semester) and a research essay 2500 words 55% (due end of semester)

Hurdle Requirement: students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five working days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Subject readings will be available on line

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
History Major
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science (pre-2008 Bachelor of Science)
History and Philosophy of Science Major
Science credit subjects* for pre-2008 BSc, BASc and combined degree science courses
Related Breadth Track(s): Understanding the Development of Science

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