Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 6 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment TWO ASSESSED ESSAYS OF 3,500 WORDS.  100%
Supplementary Assessment A NEW ESSAY FOR ANY FAILED PIECE OF WORK,  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Identify and critically analyse the primary historical sources relevant to the role of geographical location in the making of Victorian science.

Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant historiography, its evolution and the key problems currently addressed by historians in this field.

Discuss the interpretative problems and prospects associated with this topic.

Illustrate, analyse and evaluate both primary sources and the associated historiography in an extended written discussion.

Brief description

Historians are generally agreed that the practices we now recognize as science emerged out of natural philosophy during the nineteenth century. New disciplines appeared, new institutions were established and men of science were increasingly recognized as forming a distinct profession with their own particular concerns and interests. Victorian Britain was an important locus for these developments. This module examines the emergence of Victorian science as a highly localized and context dependent process. There was no homogenous consolidation of a new profession. Rather, different individuals and groups of individuals in a range of places battled to carve out institutional spaces for themselves and their practices. What counted as Victorian science was therefore deeply contested. This module invites students to investigate the importance of place ? geographical location ? in establishing scientific authority. They will need to become familiar with Victorian debates about just who should practice science and where they should do it, as well as recent historiography concerning the local nature of scientific knowledge. Victorian science has been the focus of increasing historical scrutiny over the past two decades and there is as a result a wealth of relevant literature as well as a range of increasingly accessible research resources. By focussing on the importance of science in its place, the module will also introduce students to contemporary concerns surrounding the identity of the knowledge-maker, in terms of class, gender and ethnicity.


The module will introduce students to current historiographical concerns in the history of Victorian science and to contemporary debates concerning the importance of geographical place in the construction of scientific knowledge. Students will be introduced to a range of primary sources as well as to relevant secondary literature.


1) Science on Show.
2) Factories and Observatories.
3) Labs and Lecture Theatres.
4) Out in the Field.
5) Making the Cosmos.
6) The Colonial Laboratory

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number None.
Communication Seminar discussion and essay-writing. The latter is formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Seminar and tutorial discussion; tutors¿ feedback.
Information Technology Locating source materials and surveying the historiography on the subject uses of various search tools. Essay-writing and presentation.
Personal Development and Career planning Studying the module puts students in direct contact with librarians and archivists at the National Library and elsewhere in the course of researching the location of primary sources and the development of the historiography.
Problem solving Students will be expected to identify and respond to historical problems and carry out appropriate research before the seminars and before writing essays. This will be assessed through essay writing.
Research skills Locating and assessing primary source materials. Assessed through the essays.
Subject Specific Skills Develop a knowledge of, and familiarity with, a range of different sources and with research skills in the history of science and technology.
Team work Seminar work.


This module is at CQFW Level 7