The Medieval Natural World

Module code: HS3696

Our idea of the natural world is in inextricably linked to our material one, and our attempt to order and control nature – this has been one of humanity’s greatest intellectual challenges. It has been an enterprise that has historically defined who we are and continues to do so into the modern era.

Despite the size and complexity of the task this has never discouraged people from trying. Every age and culture has made its own contribution, and the Middle Ages were no different. How people came to understand nature during this long period, which was sandwiched between the great age of philosophy that preceded it and the ages of science and discovery that would follow, is the subject of this module.

In the ten sessions you’ll cover: universal theories, astrology and astronomy, meteorology, geography, being human, animals, plants, minerals and the Book of Nature. This module will introduce you to a very different world whose ideas have largely been dismissed. There are signs, however, that medieval ideas are once again beginning to find application within the modern world.

Learning

  • 30 hours of seminars
  • 5 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 115 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Google Fieldtrip Cards, 1,000 words (40%)
  • Written/illustrated piece of work, 3,500 words (60%)