Terms: Autumn and Spring
Duration: 20 hours (10 lectures, 10 seminars)

Course Description

The aim of this module is to provide an overview of the history and development of science and technology in Spain. It should start with a preview of cultural advances in science and technology in Muslim Spain (al-Andalus) twelve hundred years ago, leading to a resurgence of medical studies, life sciences and engineering advances throughout Western Europe from the 15th century onwards.  The module will then proceed to an evaluation of late 19th and 20th century scientific and humanistic developments, focusing on the fractures and continuities of mid-20th century. The language of communication will be Spanish and, wherever possible, we will endeavour to have Spanish-speaking lecturers as guests. By the end of the course students will have acquired a clear understanding and knowledge of the various events, processes and ideas that have conditioned scientific and cultural developments in Spain leading up to the current situation.

The module provides one 1-hour lecture/seminar per week and requires a minimum of 1 hour private study per week. Assessment consists of one 1-hour test (25%) in the first term, a 4,000 word project (50%) and a 30-minute viva (25%) in the second term. Students will be provided with a variety of up-to-date written and audio-visual documentation in Spanish. In addition, they will be provided with a list of recommended reading material.


  • In-class writing task - 25%
  • 4000 word project to be submitted at the start of term 3 - 50%
  • 30-minute viva (to be arranged after the submission of the project) - 25%


Term 1

  1. Nature and Science in al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia).
  2. Natural Sciences, Medicine, Engineering. Exchanges between the Old and the New World.
  3. Voyages of exploration, royal patronage and the foundation of academies in the 18thCentury.
  4. Cultural and technological decline in the 19th Century. The loss of Empire

Term 2

  1. Scientific and Cultural revival in the early decades of the 20th Century.
  2. The war years and the subsequent exile of science and culture.
  3. Scientific and cultural expansion in the 1980s and 1990s.
  4. The ‘financial’ crisis of 2007 and its effects on the scientific and cultural fabric of the country.
  5. 2018: a new beginning for the sciences and humanities?

Recommended Reading (reading lists also available on Leganto)


  • Bloom, Jonathan and Sheila F. Blair (2003)
  • Islam: Mil años de ciencia y poder.
  • Paidos.Barrera-Osorio, Antonio (2006) Experiencing nature: the Spanish American empire and the early scientific revolution. Texas UP.
  • Cañizares-Esguerra, Jorge (2006) Nature, empire, and nation: explorations of the history of science in the Iberian world. Stanford UP Lalami,
  • Laila (2015)The Moor’s Account Periscope Otero Carvajal
  • Luis Enrique (2017) La ciencia en España, 1814-2015 Catarata


  • Frazer, Ronald (2008) Napoleon’s Cursed War. Popular Resistance in the Spanish Peninsular War, 1808-1814 Verso: London Galeano, Eduardo (2003) Las venas abiertas de América Latina. Siglo XXI.
  • Juste, Rubén (2017) IBEX35, una historia del poder en España Madrid: Capitán Swing
  • Naredo, José María (1996) La evolución de la agricultura española (1940-1990) Granada PU
  • Souto Lasala, Juan Antonio, Juan Martos Quesada y Ana Isabel Carrasco Machado (2009) Al-Andalus, Akal