HS3T98-From Darwin to Death Camps? Evolution and eugenics in European society, 1859-1945

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:6
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Prof David Stack

Email: d.a.stack@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

Aims:
Topics involve the study of specific periods, subjects or types of History. This topic aims to give students an understanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection profoundly changed our way of thinking about both the natural world and society.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•identify and explain the main issues and events studied
•acquire a detailed knowledge of the events through extensive reading in specialised literature
•locate and assemble information on the subject by independent research
•appraise critically the primary sources and historical interpretations of the subject
•organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed essays.

Additional outcomes:
This module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the student’s effectiveness in group situations. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources.

Outline content:
This module examines the reception of Darwin’s ideas and their influence in shaping social theories. In particular, the shifting perceptions of a desirable social and biological order which found expression in attempts by science, medicine and the state to influence heredity and evolution, to regulate sexuality and reproduction, and eradicate disease and defect. The consequent labeling of ‘mental defectives’, ‘degenerates’ and ‘born-criminals’ will be studied in relation to the attempts of the eugenics to promote the artificial selection of certain racial characteristics. Students will be asked to compare and contrast the differences and similarities of eugenic policies in a number of European countries. Underlying the course is a historiographical question about the relationship between nineteenth-century biology and twentieth-century politics: namely whether the ‘Final Solution’ should be seen as the culmination of a pan-European movement which began with the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859).

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars for which students must carry out full preparatory reading and research. Seminars rely on structured group discussion and may also include: seminar papers by students; discussion of evidence; team-based exercises and debates; study visit to a relevant location. Students are expected to carry out self-directed revision in the Summer term. Staff will be available for consultation as necessary.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 30
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study 169
       
Total hours by term 200.00
       
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 67
Written assignment including essay 33

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write one essay of not more than 2,500 words, to be submitted electronically via Blackboard and in hard copy to the History office by 12 noon on the Friday of week 8 of the term.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One two-hour paper requiring two answers to be taken at the time of the Part 3 examinations.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Students who fail Part Three are permitted one further attempt at a resit in each module they have failed. Students who fail Part Three will no longer be eligible for an Honours Degree but, assuming the necessary threshold after the resit (normally an overall average of 35% or above) is achieved, students will obtain a Pass Degree. Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) ONLY in August. These will be capped at a maximum mark of 40%. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon, on the last Friday of August.

    Last updated: 8 October 2014

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