If you're studying this unit in Melbourne, it's delivered in our  First Year Model from semester 1, 2018. Instead of juggling four units at once, you'll focus on this one unit across a four-week period. 

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Focusing on the intellectual, political and historical forces that have shaped the modern world, this unit develops the knowledge and skills required to participate in debates concerning the formation of contemporary culture and society. It introduces students to the core concepts of tradition and modernity, familiarises them with a range of positions and discourses in contemporary academic debates and examines the historical sources of these concepts and debates, with particular emphasis on the intellectual and social revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In focusing on key historical debates, and the positions that underpin them, the unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the critical discourses needed to analyse and interpret the systems that shape the contemporary world.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Analyse concepts and competing interpretations of tradition and modernity;  
  2. Examine cultural identities and institutions within traditional and modern societies;  
  3. Analyse breaks with and in tradition and modernity;  
  4. Examine the social, political, intellectual and historical sources and structures of the development of the modern world;  
  5. Identify a range of theoretical perspectives from the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in the interpretation and evaluation of the development of modern society.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Portfolio A portfolio of reading and writing exercises (3x 250 words each) 30%
Essay Essay drawing on central themes of the unit (1250 words) 50%
Presentation A presentation demonstrating and applying unit based knowledge (10 minutes) 20%

Required reading

Selected readings will be made available via the unit VU Collaborate site and bookshop.

The Enlightenment: and why it still matters
Pagden, A., (2013)
London: Oxford

Political Ideologies 5th edn
Heywood, A., (2012)
Palgrave Macmillan: Houndmills

Where to next?

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This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

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