SCI304: The Darwinian Revolution

Key details

Unit typeElective unit
Credit points6
Indicative contact hours3 hours per week
Offered inSemester 2
Tuition feeVisit www.campion.edu.au/tuition


In light of the introduction to the history and philosophy of science in SCI303, students will have the opportunity to perform a case-study analysis of the complex relationship between science and society. That case-study is the so-called Darwinian Revolution of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Beginning with biological and geological treatises written during the Enlightenment, students will move onto an examination of works by pre-Darwinian scholars, including Thomas Malthus, William Paley and Charles Lyell in order to appreciate the social and intellectual context of Darwin’s work. Subsequently, students will study the formulation and reception of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, as well as modern debates regarding evolution and creationism. Students will learn how religious, social and political values and interests shape the construction, formulation, as well as the acceptance or rejection, of scientific claims. Students will witness how scientists debate and negotiate with each other, as well as the wider community, about their theories.

Learning outcomes

This unit is truly inter-disciplinary, incorporating topics, methods and skills in philosophy, sociology, politics, history and science. Students undertaking this unit at the third-year level will, therefore, be drawing upon their prior studies in the liberal arts, consolidating and expanding their knowledge base and skills. More specifically, the learning outcomes are to:

a) understand the nature of what scientists do through the analysis of a major case-study in the history of science;
b) evaluate critically the changing historical perception of the relationship between humanity and nature in modern times;
c) describe the ways in which the natural sciences are intertwined with politics, religion and society;
d) engage in research, reflection, and critical analysis of the presented material on the history and philosophy of science;
e) write concise logical essays, with the appropriate use of referencing and bibliography in accordance with academic conventions; and
f) confidently and constructively participate in group work and tutorial events by undertaking required readings and contributing with clarity and coherence.

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