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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

HUMN 3011: The History of Science

This course examines the development of science in society. The course begins with the earliest scientific ideas, progressing to science in the modern era and beyond. A philosophical analysis of the advances, functions, and implications of science in society is used to study how science has changed over time and how these changes have impacted our world. The discussion addresses issues such as societal attitudes toward science, the achievements of great scientists, and the effect on future generations of today's social policies regarding science. Central questions include: What is science for? Whom is it for? How has science changed over time? How does—and how should—society use science?

Learning outcomes

  • Explore the roots of the Scientific Revolution. Determine whether there was one revolution or revolutions.
  • Evaluate the scientific method throughout history and explain the differences between scientific hypotheses and laws.
  • Compare and contrast the modern scientific method with science as practiced by early humans, through the early Greeks, Romans, Medieval, Early Modern, and Modern eras. Explain the distinction between scientist and natural philosopher. Evaluate whether this distinction has evolved over time.
  • Describe the differences between basic and applied science. Explain how the two types of science are interconnected.
  • Evaluate the influence of religion and politics on scientific discoveries and research throughout the ages. Examine whether science has existed in a vacuum without the support and restrictions provided by institutions.

Course topics

  • Module 1: Science from the Beginning to the Romans
  • Module 2: Roman, Islamic, and Medieval Science
  • Module 3: From the Scientific Revolution to Darwin
  • Module 4: Twentieth-Century Science

Required text and materials

The following materials are required for this course:

  1. Lindberg, D. C. (2007). The beginnings of Western science: The European scientific tradition in philosophical, religious, and institutional context, prehistory to A.D. 1450 (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.
    Type: Textbook ISBN: 978-0226482057.
  1. Bowler, P. J., & Morus, I. R. (2020). Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.
    Type: Textbook ISBN: 978-0226-36576-3.


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Assignment 1 - Unit 1 10%
Assignment 2 - Unit 2 15%
Assignment 3 - Unit 3 15%
Assignment 4 - Unit 4 20%
Final Exam (madatory) 40%
TOTAL 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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