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Module

HCA1002 : Big History: From the Big Bang to Climate change

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Scott Ashley
  • Lecturer: Dr Christina Mobley
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

The aims of this module are to introduce students to the concept of ‘Big History’, an innovative and growing field of looking at the past in the broadest terms, usually figured as being from the Big Bang to the present (with some speculation as to the near-future). This concept breaks down the disciplinary divisions between arts, humanities and sciences to create a structure of foundational knowledge, telling an interconnected story of the universe, Solar System, Earth, life and humanity at the largest scales. Although invented in its Anglophone variety by a historian, David Christian, Big History explicitly looks to a variety of scientific disciplines concerned with change over time, such as astronomy, geology, and biology, alongside the more familiar Humanities and Social Science techniques of history and archaeology. By the end of the module, students will have been introduced to a broad-based ‘tool-kit’ of methods and techniques by which to interrogate both the human and non-human past. They will also have a better understanding of where the histories they will study during the rest of their time at university, as well as their own lives and times, fit into the grand narratives of the Universe, the planet, and the human species.

The module aims are:
• To introduce students to the key themes of Big History and to encourage them to examine that theme from a variety of different perspectives.
• To encourage students to think about the past comparatively and to draw parallels, connections and contrasts between different types of evidence and different approaches to the past in its broadest scope.
• To provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it and to develop the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module may include the following large themes:

The Big Bang and the origin of the Universe
The birth of stars, galaxies, and planets
The formation and early history of Earth
Life and the Biosphere
The evolution of humans
Early H. sapiens
Farming and the first global civilizations
Industry, Complexity and its Discontents
The Great Acceleration
The Anthropocene Future

Key module reading: David Christian, Origin Story: A Big History of Everything (Penguin Books, 2019).

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable