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 and who, is science for? How has science changed over time? How does and should, society use science?


After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • 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 outline

This course is divided into four modules; the modules and their respective topics are as follows:

  • 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

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.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
ISBN: 978-0226482057, 0226482057

Bowler, P. J., & Morus, I. R. (2005). Making modern science: A historical survey. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
ISBN 978-0226068619, 0226068617

Additional requirements

Computer with Internet is required for this course.


Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

In order to successfully complete this course, students must obtain at least 50% on the final mandatory examination and 50% overall. It is strongly recommended that students complete all assignments in order to achieve the learning objectives of the course. The total mark will be determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 20%
Final Exam * 40%
TOTAL 100%

* Mandatory

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication through the Learning Environment’s “Mail” tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

Search To Top