Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture

PLEASE NOTE: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
15 September 2023


Requisites for this module
CS111, CS112, PY111



Key module for

BA LL37 Social Anthropology with Human Rights,
BA LL38 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA LL39 Social Anthropology with Human Rights (Including Placement Year)

Module description

By examining the Enlightenment period, this module provides students with a crucial framework for understanding today`s dominant intellectual currents and social contexts.

This framework proves remarkably useful for students in their second and third year. Indeed, graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they have taken.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to the Enlightenment period that was pivotal for the formation of our modern world.

  • To provide students with a framework and background knowledge to navigate successfully their studies in future years.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. To read, assess and summarise the arguments of challenging texts.

  2. To learn the conventions of an academic writing including structure, quotation, reference, and bibliography.

  3. To show the ability to work from particular questions on a specific text, and to write a coherent essay in response.

  4. To assess and evaluate specific arguments and texts and write a critical analysis.

  5. To compare and contrast two or more selected texts in one particular aspect, and express their similarities and differences.

  6. To explicate a set passage from one of the texts on the programme, to relate it to rest of the text and to fit it in the contextual, conceptual and comparative framework, the Enlightenment itself, established during the module.

  7. To test the ability to respond to general, thematic questions that demand a broad grasp of the intellectual and historical developments considered in the module.

  8. To analyse types of language of a set passage and to relate that language to historical and discursive factors.

Module information

The Enlightenment (roughly 1650-1800) was a politically and intellectually revolutionary period of history that defined the ideas that continue to shape the way we see ourselves and the world we live in – ideas like democracy, free speech, individualism, scientific evidence, free markets, and human rights.

Built on a spine of lectures delivered by experts from across the Faculties of Humanities and the Social Sciences, this interdisciplinary module covers topics such as slavery and anti-slavery revolts, how colonialism and technological change is reflected in literature of the time, early feminism, the American Revolution, the roots of capitalism, the aftermath of the Scientific Revolution, the origins of modern law and medicine, Rousseau`s critique of social inequality, the French Revolution, and Dutch Still Life paintings as expressions of modern subjectivity. We will draw on artworks, novels, political pamphlets, and speeches, as well as philosophical texts.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 1-hour lecture per week.
  • One 1-hour class per week.

There will be a Reading Week each term when no teaching will take place - exact weeks to be confirmed


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Exam  Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during January 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
70% 30%


Coursework Exam
70% 30%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Fabian Freyenhagen, email: ffrey@essex.ac.uk.
A range of staff from across the university will contribute to the module.
PHAIS General Office - 6.130; isugadmin@essex.ac.uk.



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 61 hours, 43 (70.5%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
18 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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