HUMN 3011
History of Science

3.0 Credits


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?

Delivery Method



None. Provincial Grade 12 Diploma or equivalent is recommended. University-level studies in history, science, or social sciences are recommended.


Students with credit for HUMN 300 may not take this course for further credit.


After you have successfully completed the four Units in this course, you will be able to:

  • Define science and the scientific method.
  • Explain the difference between a scientific hypothesis and a theory.
  • Explain why a scientific hypothesis must be potentially falsifiable.
  • Describe the motivations behind early scientific discoveries
  • Compare pure and applied science in early society.
  • Explain why the use of communication by early humans is important in science.
  • Compare and contrast the modern scientific method with science as practiced by early humans.
  • Explain the contribution of Classic Greek science to the Explain the contribution of Classic Greek science to the scientific method.
  • Explain the influence of Thales, Plato, and Aristotle on subsequent generations.
  • Compare and contrast Classic Greek and modern science.
  • Explain the contribution of Arabic science to the development of modern science.
  • Describe the impact of Arabic Science on Europe.
  • Explain the inductive scientific method as outlined by Francis Bacon
  • Critically evaluate whether or not the Scientific Revolution was revolutionary.
  • Describe how changes in the scientific method and the collection of scientific data occurred during the Scientific Revolution.
  • Describe the scientific innovations of scientists that contributed to the hypothesis of the heliocentric solar system.
  • Explain the reaction of Renaissance society to the heliocentric solar system.
  • Describe the scientific innovations of Isaac Newton
  • Explain how the personality of scientists can influence their discoveries.
  • Describe how scientists can negatively interact with each other.
  • Describe the impact of the Industrial Revolution on science and society.
  • Explain the difference between the Industrial and Scientific Revolution.
  • Describe the scientific innovations of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Describe the distinction between scientist and natural philosopher.
  • Explain natural selection as a mechanism for evolution.
  • Describe societal reaction to the theory of evolution.
  • Explain Pasteur's work in disproving spontaneous generation.
  • Summarize scientific problems in physics at the beginning of the twentieth century.
  • Explain why ether was such an important concept.
  • Describe Einstein's contributions to science.
  • Compare Einstein with other great scientists.
  • Provide a general explanation for Einstein's special theory of relativity
  • Explain Mendelian heredity.
  • Describe the connection between basic and applied atomic science.
  • Compare Rutherford's concept of the atom to previous concepts
  • Describe how politics can influence science.
  • Explain how evidence proves the existence of the atomic nucleus.
  • Describe Oppenheimer's views on possible applications for nuclear energy.
  • Describe how economics can affect modern medicine.
  • Describe negative and positive consequences of modern medicine
  • Describe society's expectations of modern medicine.
  • Describe how economics can affect information technology.
  • Describe negative and positive consequences of computers and the Internet.
  • Describe society's expectations of computers and the Internet.
  • Describe the possible future of science.
  • Explain the difficulties involved in predicting the future of science.
  • Explain the philosophy of Classic Greek Science
  • Explain the philosophy of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Describe the influence of religion and politics on early science.
  • Describe the forces which brought about the Scientific Revolution.
  • Describe the forces which brought about the Industrial Revolution.
  • Compare and contrast beliefs associated with early and Renaissance science.
  • Compare modern and past examples of science.
  • Explain some of the effects of technology on modern society.
  • Describe possibilities for prioritizing societal decisions about science based on present needs and future consequences.
  • Explain how the benefits and risks of future science can be compared.
  • Discuss how past predictions about the future can be used to explain difficulties in successfully predicting future science.
  • Identify how methods of scientific study have changed.

Course Outline

The course is divided into four units, which are further divided into sections of study:

Unit 1: Prehistory to the Renaissance

  • Section 1.1: Introduction to the History of Science
  • Section 1.2: Early Science I: The Roots of Science
  • Section 1.3: Early Science II: Greece
  • Section 1.4: Early Science III: Arabia
  • Section 1.5: Early Science IV: The Dark Ages
  • Section 1.6: The Dawn of the Renaissance

Unit 2: Copernicus to Darwin

  • Section 2.1: The Scientific Revolution
  • Section 2.2: Great Scientists I: Moving the Earth
  • Section 2.3: Great Scientists II: Apples, Optics, and Orbits
  • Section 2.4: Science During the Industrial Revolution
  • Section 2.5: Great Scientists III: The Origin of Life
  • Section 2.6: Anticipating the Twentieth Century

Unit 3: Einstein to the Twenty-First Century

  • Section 3.1: Great Scientists IV: The Theory of Relativity
  • Section 3.2: Great Scientists V: Genes and Genetics
  • Section 3.3: Great Scientists VI: Secrets of the Atom
  • Section 3.4: Great Scientists VII: Medical Pioneers
  • Section 3.5: Great Scientists VIII: The Information Age
  • Section 3.6 Science at the end of the 20th Century

Unit 4: Perspectives on Past, Present, and Future Science

  • Section 4.1: Politics and Philosophy of Early Science
  • Section 4.2: Politics and Philosophy of Renaissance Science
  • Section 4.3: Politics and Philosophy of Modern Science
  • Section 4.4: The Future I: Responsibilities for the Future?
  • Section 4.5: The Future II: Dreams and Nightmares

Maximum Completion

30 weeks.

Required Text and Materials

All of your readings are contained in the course Book of Readings included in your course package. There is no other textbook for this course.

Additional Requirements

Computer with Internet is required for this course.

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through Blackboard's "Mail" tool or by phone. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.


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%
Examination 40%
TOTAL 100%

Students must pass the final exam to receive a passing grade in the course.