School of Social and Political Science

History of Science


Why do we believe that the earth is revolving around the sun?

How did Darwin develop his theory of evolution?

How did the University of Edinburgh contribute to the history of science?

How has science influenced warfare?

Who invented the Internet?

And what is the role of women in science?

In this course we will discover the development of scientific thought from Ancient Civilizations into the Twenty First Century, paying attention to astronomy, mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, geology, space and computer science.

While introducing historical methods we will cover recent debates in the history of science, paying attention to instruments, geography, organisation, gendering and communication of science. Includes a visit to the National Museum of Scotland.

Themes include:

  • The non-Western origins of science
  • Greek philosophy
  • Religion and science
  • The establishment of Universities
  • Scientific revolution
  • Newtonian science
  • Darwin and evolution
  • Industrial revolution
  • Science in wartime
  • Space exploration
  • Human genome and biomedicine
  • IT and globalisation

On completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain major developments in the ideas, institutions, and products of science in world history.
  • Apply contextual and comparative perspectives to scientific knowledge and practices from disparate times and places.
  • Discuss how scientific knowledge and practices relate to their wider political, economic, social, and cultural contexts.
  • Critically evaluate the use of historical evidence in historical argument.

This is a level 8 course with 20 credits

There will be 3 lectures per week in Semester 2