Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Science, Religion & Magic 1600 - 1900
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 1 hour lectures
Seminars / Tutorials 10 seminars plus individual essay tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Semester Assessment - 2 x 2,500 word essays  2 x 2,500 word essays  50%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   Semester Examination - 3hr closed examination  50%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary Assessment  submit any missing or failed written work  50%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   Supplementary Examination - 3 hr exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.
Understand and reflect on current historiographical concerns relating to the relationship between science and other forms of belief.

Appreciate the general features of the development of science from the early modern period in the context of its relationship to religion and other forms of popular belief.

Understand the cultural context of science and other forms of belief.

Recognize and use appropriate kinds of historical evidence in understanding the relationship between science and other forms of belief.

Brief description

We usually think of science as if it were set apart from other belief systems. We tend to think of the relationship between science and religion in particular as one of antagonism. This will module will demonstrate the ways in which the relationship between science and other forms of belief is far more complex than this simple popular model supposes. For most of their recent histories, for example, science and religion, far from being poles apart, were inextricably connected. Some historians have even argued that particular forms of religious belief and organization were essential for the rise of modern science. Examining these connexions should cast new light on science and its cultures.


This module aims to introduce and examine the relationship between science, religion and other forms of popular belief from the early modern to the modern period. By investigating the relationship between different belief systems in this way the module will seek to introduce a number of issues in the contemporary cultural history of the sciences.


1. Introduction ? the historical problem of science, religion and belief
2. Magic and the Natural World
3. The Trial of Galileo
4. Protestant Science
5. Sects and Sectaries
6. Newton the Heretic
7. God and the Enlightenment
8. Joseph Priestley and the Economy of Heaven
9. Mesmerizing the Revolution
10. Natural Theology
11. Electrical Radicalism
12. Measuring Skulls ? Measuring Society
13. Evolution and Progress
14. Mesmerism and the Body Politic
15. Darwin, God and Reform
16. Physics and the World of Spirit
17. Other Worlds
18. Conclusions

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication This skill will be developed through the two essays and the seminar discussions. Students will also be expected to give seminar presentations during the term. This skill will be assessed as part of the assessment of the essays. Seminar presentations are not formally assessed but feedback is given to students.
Improving own Learning and Performance Essays will be returned in essay tutorials where advice will be given on improving students¿ research techniques and essay writing skills.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to access information on CD-ROMs and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their work. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning This module will help develop written and oral skills. Other activities, including research, assessment of information and writing in a critical and clear manner, will further develop useful skills of analysis and presentation.
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 as part of the assessment of the essays.
Research skills These skills will be developed through the research students are expected to carry out before the seminars and for the essays. This will be assessed as part of the assessment of the essays.
Team work Students will work together in seminar preparation and discussion


This module is at CQFW Level 6