Science in 18th and 19th century Britain - a social and political history

Department of History, School of History and Cultures

College of Arts and Law


Code 20798

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 20

Semester 1&2

Module description

The aim of this module is to examine the role which science played in British society between the Enlightenment and World War I. The birth of professional science in the early 20th century represents the end of a long process, and the module will discuss this in detail. The intellectual and institutional developments associated with science in the 18th and 19th century will form a background to discussions of who did science (e.g. men, women, children, gentlemen or artisans); where science was done (e.g. in private or in public, in laboratories or in the field), and why (e.g. in order to gain patronage or social capital). The module will also examine the influence of science on political and religious debates in the 18th and 19th centuries. The main focus will be on developments in Britain but comparisons with the continent of Europe and the US will be made.