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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Science and Empire: from Enlightenment to Decolonisation, 1750-1965 (HIST10434)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis honours course will introduce the relationship between science and imperialism from the late eighteenth century to the era of independence in the 1960s. Students will examine the relationship between scientific knowledge and imperial expansion and decline. A key theme running through the course will be the influence of scientific ideas on the interaction between colonial subjects and metropolitan powers.
Course description This course aims to introduce students to the themes and methods of the history of science with specific reference to imperialism and the development of colonial empires. To achieve this aim we will examine a variety of scientific disciplines, spaces and time periods, from roughly 1750 until the 1960s. We will consider examples from the main colonial empires of the period including, Britain, France, Portugal, Germany and the United States. Students will be introduced to key approaches and trends in the historiography of science. The seminar portions of the course will involve working with primary source material, with students introducing sources and discussing their interpretation. Primary sources from the later period (i.e., the twentieth century) may include video and audio resources.

Our concerns in this course will include:
- Past and current trends in the historiography of science and empire;
- How science as a social institution was influenced, and was influenced by, imperialism and colonialism;
- Race, Darwin and imperialism;
- Relationships between scientific knowledge and colonial power;
- The role of local knowledge as a contributor or challenger to 'Western' science;
- History of development schemes in colonies and the necessity of understanding this history for current development policy and analysis.

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: slavery, racial violence, disease and illness. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students must have 3 History courses at grade B or above (including history of science or history of European imperialism). We will only consider University/College level courses. Enrolments for this course are managed by the CAHSS Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department. All enquiries to enrol must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
4,000 word Essay (50%)
1,000 word Book Review (30%)

Non-Written Skills:
Presentation (20%)
Feedback Essays will be returned with feedback within 15 working days of submission.
Students will receive written feedback on their oral presentation, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Feedback on seminar participation will be given individually midway through the semester by email with the opportunity for follow-up meetings.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a command of key themes in the history of science and empire;
  2. Demonstrate through writing an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon current historiographical debates around the role of science and scientific knowledge in imperialism;
  3. Demonstrate through writing and an oral presentation an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source materials;
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. Demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers
Reading List
Drayton, Richard. Nature's Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the 'Improvement' of the World (New Haven and London: 2000).
Golinski, Jan. Making Natural Knowledge: Constructivism and the History of Science. (London: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Hodge, Joseph. Triumph of the Expert: Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism (Athens, Ohio: 2007).
McClellan III, James E. and Fran├žois Regourd. The Colonial Machine: French Science and Overseas Expansion in the Old Regime (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2012).
Raj, Kapil. Relocating Modern Science: Circulation and the Construction of Knowledge in South Asia and Europe, 1650-1900 (London: Palgrave Macmillan: 2007).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will help students develop a range of transferable skills, including:
- the ability to manage one's time effectively, work to deadlines, and perform effectively under pressure;
- the ability to gather, sift, organise and evaluate large quantities of textual evidence;
- the ability to marshal argument in both written and oral form;
- the ability to work independently and as part of a pair or larger group.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lawrence Dritsas
Tel: (0131 6)50 4011
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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