• Offered by School of History
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject History
  • Areas of interest European Languages, History, Philosophy, Digital Humanities

The era of the Enlightenment is widely regarded as a formative period in the history of the modern world. It is a period in which new ideas about nature, religion, politics and social order spread across Europe and its colonial worlds with profound effects. Today, the values and aspirations of that era are often treated as foundation stones for modern liberal-democratic societies or, alternatively, as ideals that have been betrayed and abandoned. Yet the Enlightenment has always had its critics. From the 1700s until today there have been those who regarded the Enlightenment as a threat to European or Christian civilisation, and those who have regarded it as a tool of conquest on behalf of that civilisation. There have been people who reject the ideals and aspirations of that era and those who re-invented or appropriated them to serve their own ends. This advanced course seeks to explore both the Enlightenment, in its historical context, and the debates it has spawned from the 1700s until the present. In doing so, students will be encouraged to investigate the original history of the Enlightenment in a critical relationship with the, sometimes distorting, representations of both its admirers and critics.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. demonstrate critical understanding of key themes and issues in the study of the Enlightenment;
  2. analyse and explicate major ideas associated with the history of the Enlightenment;
  3. examine relationships between the intellectual developments of the period and broader issues of historical context;
  4. construct evidence-based arguments about the origins, character and/or legacy of the Enlightenment; and
  5. design and complete a research project on the history of the Enlightenment with assistance from the convener.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Oral and/or written contribution to class activities – (weekly) (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Essay – (2000 words) (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Research Essay Proposal – (1000 words) (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Research Essay – (3500 words) (50) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks. This will comprise a combination of small group classes and individual consultations. The small-group classes will involve a combination of convener presentation, student presentation, group discussion and group activities.

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed HIST2228 or HIST6228.

Prescribed Texts

Weekly reading will be made available to students in electronic form.

Preliminary Reading

Students seeking preliminary reading for the course might look at:


D. Edelstein, The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2010)

A. Pagden, The Enlightenment and Why it Still Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

I. Kramnick, The Portable Enlightenment Reader (Penguin: New York, 1995)

D. Outram, The Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995/2005)


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $5700
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8783 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person N/A

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