A History of Science from Sumer to Turing


This course will be a tour de force on the History of Science, commencing with the Science of Sumer the course then moves rapidly through Greece where Aristotle and Archimedes reigned supreme, we then discuss both Indian and Arabic contributions and embark on investigating the enlightenment and the science of Europe. The Newtonian world view will be developed, witnessing its gradual toppling and demise at the hands of Einstein. The course will end with the science of the 20th century, in particular: Quantum Physics, Relativity (Special and General), Chemistry, Darwin and Computer Science. 

Programme details

Seminar 1 : Sun, 9.00am – 10.30am

The Science of Sumer, Babylon and Egypt.

Seminar 2 : Sun, 11.00am – 12.30pm

The Science of Greece, Aristotle reigns supreme.

Seminar 3 : Mon, 9.00am – 10.30am

The Science of India.

Seminar 4 : Mon, 11.00am – 12.30pm

The Science of Islam.

Seminar 5 : Tue, 9.00am – 10.30am

The Scientific Method and the Scientific Revolution.

Seminar 6 : Tue, 11.00am – 12.30pm

Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and their contemporaries’ part I.

Seminar 7 : Wed, 9.00am – 10.30am

Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and their contemporaries’ part II.

Seminar 8 : Wed, 11.00am – 12.30pm

Newton, gravity and the toppling of the Aristotelian Worldview, his Alchemy/Chemistry.

Seminar 9 : Thu, 9.00am – 10.30am

A brief History of Chemistry.

Seminar 10 : Thu, 11.00am – 12.30pm 

The History of 20th century Physics Quantum Physics and Relativity.

Seminar 11 : Fri, 9.00am – 10.30am

Darwin shakes things up.

Seminar 12 : Fri, 11.00am – 12.30pm

A brief History of Computing



Description Costs
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner) £945.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1630.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1365.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1660.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1400.00


Concessionary rates are available on a non-residential basis for those that qualify, more information can be found here

Unfortunately we do not offer any specific scholarships or funding opportunities for OUSSA programme, but you can visit our departmental funding webpage, where you may be able to find a particular source of funding that matches your requirements alongside meeting the funding criteria.


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Tuition and meals are included in the programme fee, with both residential and non-residential options available.

Course change administration fee: Please note that course transfers may be permitted in exceptional circumstances; however, in accordance with our Terms and Conditions, an administration fee of £50 will be charged.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date

Cancellations and Refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to oussa@conted.ox.ac.uk or by post to OUSSA, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.
  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2023 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2023 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2023 - no refunds will be made.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2023. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2023, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance 

The Department cannot be held responsible for any costs you may incur in relation to travel or accommodation bookings as a result of a course cancellation, or if you are unable to attend the course for any other reason. You are advised to check cancellation policies carefully and to purchase travel insurance.


Dr Vasos Pavlika


Dr Vasos Pavlika is a Mathematical Physicist with a PhD in Magnetostatics and Computational Fluid Dynamics. He is a keen historian of both Mathematics and Science and has published papers on how to incorporate the histories of Science and Mathematics in teaching. Vasos is an Associate Professor (Teaching) at UCL, departmental lecturer and Director of Studies in the Physical Sciences at OUDCE, University of Oxford. Vasos is also departmental tutor at the LSE (in Mathematics), an online tutor with the OU (in Applied Mathematics), an online tutor with SOAS (Mathematical finance), an online lecturer with Goldsmiths college (Computing) an associate tutor with Birkbeck college (Statistics) and Departmental tutor in the Department of Continuing Education, Cambridge University (ICE). Vasos has been a national and international External examiner since 2006, conducting his duties overseas in Australia, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Northern Ireland, Latvia Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Malaysia and Myanmar.  

Course aims

This course aims to:

  • Introduce key scientific figures and events in the development of science
  • To discuss the lives of key scientists of the ages
  • To introduce epoch making ideas in the History of Science.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. The teaching methods used during this course will include:

  • Short lectures/presentations
  • Physical handouts
  • Seminars/group discussions

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be expected to:

  • Comprehend the contributions to the development of Science of Sumer, Babylon and Greece
  • How the Aristotelian worldview was toppled by Newton
  • How the Newtonian worldview was toppled by Einstein
  • The history of the two great theories of 20th century Physics (Quantum Physics and Relativity
  • The impact of Darwin on mankind’s place in the universe

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.


More information about our accommodation can be found here