Introduction to the History of Science


The history of science connects scientific work to world themes and events such as imperialism, industrialisation, and world wars. Unlike other sorts of histories, the history of science isn’t focused on a specific place, group of people or discrete set of events – it’s about the history of a pervasive and massively influential idea – that humans can understand, read, and predict nature (Ede & Cormack, 2012).

One of the major questions in the field of the history of science is whether, why, and how science is different from any other human activity. The study of science history teaches us that science is a complicated, cumulative process, which is tangled together with many other facets of our culture and links science with world events or themes such as industrialisation, the Renaissance, colonialism, and world wars.

Investigating the history of science means exploring more than technological advancement and progress. It involves looking at failures and external influences on science and appreciating the complex process that leads to new knowledge and technologies. The history of science covers everything from the work of ancient Greek philosophers to biologists’ current use of organoids (‘organs in a dish’) in labs today.


• Connect world events to science
• Consider science as it relates to culture and society
• Understand the iterative nature of science

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Here is some further reading you may find interesting:

An Overview of the Renaissance Period -

The History of Science History -

Resource activities

Activity 1 - Scientific Revolution

This resource will get you to think about the scientific revolution and consider some of the important people and events in the history of science.


Activity 1 Answers - Scientific Revolution

This has some suggested answers and key points you could think about when answering the questions in Activity 1.


Reflective questions

To answer and record these questions you will need to have an account and be logged in.

Task 1

What are the key arguments, concepts, points contained within it?

Task 2

What are you struggling to understand?

What could you do to improve your understanding of these concepts/terminology etc.?

Task 3

What further questions has this resource raised for you?

What else are you keen to discover about this topic and how could you go about learning more?

Can you make any links between this topic and your prior knowledge or school studies?

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