History Thematic Course: The Enlightenment (V1345)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

Both the friends and the foes of 'modernity' tend to find most of its intellectual, cultural, political, and institutional origins in the Enlightenment. The aim of this module is to provide you with an appreciation of why the period from the late-17th to the end of the 18th century is considered to be of such importance for our self-understanding.

The module is primarily concerned with the Enlightenment's modes of thought:

  • how people struggled to formulate new ideas of the natural world and its exploration
  • of animals and their rights
  • of individuality and conscience
  • of the role of emotion in morals and art
  • of religious versus secular life
  • of privacy versus the public sphere
  • of the role of women
  • of individual rights and the common good
  • of 'society' as an object of science and control
  • of the contrast between European and non-European society
  • of race and racism.

However, such ideas can be understood only in their social, political, and cultural contexts, and the module will pay due attention to the actual function of Enlightenment, both as a pan-European phenomenon and in its national and more local environments.

The module gives you the opportunity for wide and varied reading that will include politics, philosophy, theology, aesthetics, science, arts, and samples of the banned and suppressed literature of the period.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.