Ten Technologies That Changed the World - HIST4340

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 4 15 (7.5) Charlie Hall checkmark-circle


Throughout the course of human history, developments in science and technology have changed the way we interact with one another and with the world at large. This team-taught module will showcase the breadth and depth of expertise of the staff in History by exposing students to examples of technological advances from the medieval, early modern and modern periods, and encompassing diverse sub-fields such as military history, environmental history, and the history of medicine. Moreover, the ten technologies included in the module will each act as a lens through which students can understand broader historical trends and themes – including the rise of literacy and civil society, the expansion and reduction of empire, travel across and beyond the Earth, the fight for gender and race equality, and the social implications of an increasingly online and interconnected world.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20
Total private study hours: 130
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

• Written assignment (1,500 words) – 20%
• Essay (2,000 words) – 25%
• Seminar contributions – 15%
• Exam (2 hours) – 40%

Reassessment methods:
One essay of 2,000 words; title to be selected from the list of essays in the Module Handbook and on a topic not hitherto covered by the student

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Hughes, T .P. (2004). Human-Built World: How to Think about Technology and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Morus, I. R. (2017). The Oxford Illustrated History of Science. Oxford: OUP
Pinch, T. & Collins, H. (2012). The Golem: What You Should Know About Science. Cambridge: CUP
Pinch, T. & Collins, H. (2002). The Golem at Large: What You Should Know About Technology. Cambridge: CUP
Shapin, S. (1995). A Social History of Truth: Civility And Science In Seventeenth-Century England. Chicago: Chicago University Press
Shapin, S. (1998). The Scientific Revolution. Chicago: Chicago University Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate knowledge of key technologies, episodes and events in the medieval, early modern and modern development of science and technology in Europe and the USA.
2 Interpret a representative sample of science and technology historiography from the past generation.
3 Demonstrate an understanding of key themes explored by historians of science and technology since the birth of the sociology of scientific knowledge (e.g. practices, networks, textualisation).
4 Demonstrate an understanding of how these historical methodologies translate into written histories.
5 Demonstrate critical acumen concerning popular myths about science, technology and their history.
6 Display an understanding of the specific skills involved in the presentation of technological development to different audiences.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles associated with this topic and interpret them within that framework
2 Display their ability to identify and solve problems
3 Engage confidently in independent work, with a strong grasp of time management, use of library resources, historical research, organisation and analysis of material, and oral and written communication to a variety of audiences.
4 Communicate the results of their research effectively through written work, including the use of structured and coherent arguments.
5 Demonstrate their communication skills and skills with IT.
6 Present information creatively and accessibly.


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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