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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

Why did Copernicus put the sun at the centre of the universe? Why did William Harvey claim that the blood circulates around the body? Was Isaac Newton really inspired by that falling apple? The Scientific Revolution is the name given to the radical transformation of Western science created by these and other figures between 1500 and 1700. This course explores the strangely familiar world of alchemy and astronomy, of atoms and astrolabes – in order to discover the origins of contemporary culture's most powerful force: modern science. Download course guide.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 1
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Ben Marsden

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The Scientific Revolution is the name given to the radical transformation of Western science by Copernicus, Galileo, Harvey and Newton between 1500 and 1700. What were the 'origins of modern science'? This course explores the lives and work of these and other key figures in the history of science. It asks what problems they were responding to and how they reacted to social, political and religious forces of their times. The course introduces students to familiar and unfamiliar sciences (from alchemy to astronomy), assesses how scientific practitioners disseminated their ideas, and investigates why new groups arose claiming that science could create useful technologies. It asks what difference telescopes, microscopes and other new machines made to scientific practice. Were science and religion in conflict? How did scientists decide that more could be learnt by doing experiments instead of looking over ancient books? What, then, were the 'origins of modern science'?

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 essay of 2,000 words (40%); 1 2-hour examination (60%).

Resit: Examination (100%)

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.


Feedback will be given by course instructors in the form of personal conversation with students in tutorials, detailed written comments on all submitted written work, and, orally, following examination.

Course Learning Outcomes


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