Online course

The Scientific Revolution: Understanding the Roots of Modern Science

Learn about the seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution and its role in shaping the modern Western world.

The Scientific Revolution: Understanding the Roots of Modern Science

Trace the roots of modern science

How did the science of today come about? What constitutes ‘modern’ science? How does science relate to religion?

Answer these questions and more with this course that travels back in time to the seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution to explore the roots of modern science. In this course you will critically explore the history of science, challenging established simplistic narratives of how science has developed. You will also examine modern scientific methods, the relationship between science, religion and secularism, and, if you work in science, consider the origins of our own discipline.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsToday, our life depends on science. Science helps us to fight diseases. It allows us to travel in space and even bypass space by creating new virtual communities. Science let's us explore the origins of the universe. Eventually, science might even provide humanity with the means of destroying itself. When we think about scientists, we imagine women and men working in laboratories dealing with highly complex technological instruments and working with complex mathematical formulas to express their theories. But when did scientists begin working in laboratories? How did their experimental methods develop and how did mathematics become so important for many scientific disciplines? And what does it mean to explain a phenomenon scientifically?

Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondScience, as we understand it today, is very much a product of the last four centuries. In this free online course, educators from the faculty of philosophy at the University of Groningen will be your guide in discovering the Scientific Revolution that gave birth to modern science back in 17th century Europe. You will learn how to interpret and discuss some of the revolutionary ideas that forever changed the way in which human beings attempt to understand the natural world. And you will reflect on how often scientists disagree about matters and theories and also, when our science can benefit from these disagreements.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 secondsBy looking at the historical roots of today's science, you'll discover a new exciting perspective to understand one of the most powerful elements that shapes our world. Are you ready? Join us.

What topics will you cover?

  • Understanding ‘science’
  • Aristotelian ‘science’ vs. the ‘new’ science
  • Experience, experiments and instruments
  • The role of scientific hypotheses
  • Science and society
  • Science, religion and secularisation

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
    This course started 3 December 2018

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Reflect on the historical background of your own scientific discipline by tracing it back to its seventeenth-century roots
  • Interpret texts about scientific practices of the past
  • Engage critically with ideas about the overall role and meaning of scientific disciplines and practices
  • Produce a short blog post about the historical background of your discipline

Who is the course for?

This course has been created for those working in science who wish to know more about the origins of modern science. It’s also been created for people with a general interest in science and history.

Who will you learn with?

Andrea Sangiacomo

I'm Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at Groningen. I work mainly on the history of early modern philosophy and science.

Doina-Cristina Rusu

I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen. I work on the history of philosophy and science in the early modern period.

Han Thomas Adriaenssen

I am an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Groningen. I work mainly on the history of late medieval and early modern philosophy.

Who developed the course?

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.

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  • Access to this course for 5 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes


  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

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