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Assessment in this course takes the form of:

  • A brief tutorial presentation and grade for overall contribution to tutorial discussions over the course of the semester (25% of total mark)
  • An essay of no more than 2000 words due on 26 August 2011 (25% of total mark)
  • A research essay of no more than 3000 words due on 28 October 2011 (50% of total mark)

Tutorial Presentation and Overall Participation

You will be required to give a tutorial presentation on or related to one of the topics explored in this course. The presentation should be no more than 10 minutes in length and designed to stimulate informed discussion.

The Criteria and Standards Marking Sheet (see ECP for this course) will be used in marking your essays and tutorial presentations.

Mid-semester essay

This essay should be no more than 2000 words in length. You can research and write about one topic from the following list, or you can frame your own topic in consultation with your tutor.

Mid-semester essay topics

  1. What were the main differences between Descartes account of human understanding and that of Locke and subsequent British writers on the relations between mind, the body and external world?
  2. What appear to be the most significant changes that occurred in British thinking about the concept of reason and the passions during the course of the eighteenth century?
  3. Would it be true to say that what emerged was a more pessimistic vision of humanity's capacity for moral and social improvement?
  4. What similarities can we see between the ways in which Locke, Hume and Bentham explained the development of human understanding and later theories of human behaviour? What problems did Descartes believe that he had resolved by his account of the relations between mind and body?
  5. What changes occurred between the mid-seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries in the management of pregnancy and birthing due to the involvement of physicians and surgeons?
  6. How did late eighteenth century naturalists and anatomists explain variation in humanity? Where there any significant points of disagreement?
  7. How do we explain the wide attraction of phrenology beyond medico-scientific circles in nineteenth century Britain?
  8. What advances occurred in public health in Britain between c.1800 and 1860?
  9. Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of Michel Foucault's history of the evolution of European thinking about madness, prison reform or medicine in the period 1660 to 1860.
  10. What major changes occurred in the history of the treatment of the mentally ill between 1760 and 1850? Do you think that the plight of the mentally ill improved during this period?
  11. What was ‘moral therapy’? How was it applied in the context of the Asylum between the years 1780 and 1840?

Research Essay

This research essay must be based on research conducted through the course of the semester. It must demonstrate evidence of a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the subject. Students may chose to investigate a question from the following list. Alternately, they can devise and investigation a question in consultation with their tutor on an aspect of topics covered in this course that they have found particularly interesting.

Research Essay Questions

  1. In the early nineteenth century mental illness came to be understood as an imbalance in the mental functioning of a human being: the insane were deranged, but not completely estranged from — or essentially other to — the normal human condition. This was why it was thought that the application of a moral treatment could cure mental disorders. Within these early nineteenth-century medical developments, to what extent did conceptual changes reflect therapeutic changes?
  2. Discuss how the theory of degeneration helped late-nineteenth-century psychiatrists to explain insanity and their general failure to cure it.
  3. Lombroso argued that women in general were less advanced in an evolutionary sense than men, and female criminals were much closer to the female norm than male criminals were to the male norm. This easily led to the assumption that all women were ‘atavistic’ to some extent and had a criminal taint. How did Lombroso exploit phrenology and evolution theories to support his arguments about female criminality?
  4. In the second half of the nineteenth century it was estimated that a quarter of the female population suffered from hysteria. In many ways, medical ideas of hysteria reflected nineteenth-century cultural assumptions about women. Evaluate this claim.
  5. In the second half of the nineteenth century neurologists began focusing on speech disorders. Compare and contrast phrenology’s research on the brain and this new neurological research on brain functions.

Both the mid-semester essay and the research essay must be based on careful research and reading. You will be required to provide relevant evidence and arguments in essaying your chosen topic. Essays must be fully referenced, and must have a bibliography of all sources you quote or consulted.

In submitting your first essay you must use Turnitin

Ensure that you submit a hard copy and an electronic copy of your essay. The electronic copy must be submitted through eLearning@UQ on the same day your submit your paper copy to receive a grade for the report.

Turnitin is compulsory in all courses within the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics.

Illness or misadventure

If you cannot submit an assignment by the due date, you should email the lecturer immediately concerning the possibility of an extension. Students with provisional email approval for an extension should submit an “Application for Extension of Assessment” form: Please supply any relevant documents (for example a medical certificate) with your application to the School office (E306 Forgan Smith Building). The School policy is that unapproved late essays may be subjected to an automatic penalty of 1% of the final grade for each day that they are late for a maximum of two weeks (at the discretion of the Course Coordinator). Unless special arrangements have been made essays more than two weeks late may not be accepted.

Criteria for marking

The School of History Philosophy Religion & Classics has adopted standard assessment criteria for all undergraduate courses. All students are expected to be familiar with its policy relating to assessment on the School’s Webpage. The Criteria and Standards Marking Sheet (appearing in the ECP for this course and also available on the School webpage) will be used in marking your essays and research reports.

Students can expect to PASS (4) if their assessed work demonstrates acquisition of some or all the graduate attributes specified in the course “aims and attributes” (see above). A grade of CREDIT (5) indicates a capability for some analytical skill, including evidence of research initiative or interpretative originality. DISTINCTION (6) is evidence of an understanding of the deeper and more complex aspects of the subject under study and of original evaluation and interpretation. This will also include extensive research and some understanding of the intellectual debate about a particular topic. To gain a grade of HIGH DISTINCTION (7) students must demonstrate considerable originality and sophistication in their approach. High Distinction is evidence of excellence in research, written expression, critical analysis and scholarly understanding. A CONCEDED PASS (3) is awarded in cases of work that is close to satisfactory, but fails to reach basic Pass level; in may also be awarded in some cases where work is incomplete. A grade of FAIL (2) is given in cases where work does not satisfy the basic requirements of the course. Work of totally unsatisfactory standard is given a SERIOUS FAIL (1).


7 = 100-85% 6 = 84-75% 5 = 74-65% 4 = 64-50% 3 = 49-45% 2 = 44-25% 1 = 24-0%

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