The European Enlightenment, c1680-1799

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Timothy Hochstrasser E407


This course is available on the MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities, MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia), MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

The course will be taught by both lectures (HY315) and seminars (HY426).

Course content

The objective of the course is to introduce students to the main themes and debates of the Enlightenment through selections from the original writings of the leading political, scientific and philosophical thinkers of the period. The chronological framework of the Enlightenment is here taken to be Europe between the reign of Louis XIV and the end of the French Revolution. The Enlightenment is the period in which philosophy, history, economics and anthropology and other social sciences began to emerge as discrete disciplines independent of state and church control. The course sets out to explore the new ideas generated in these areas as a result of a fresh understanding of man's place in the physical world. The contributions of Newton, Locke, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Hume and Smith, among others, will be highlighted, and developed with a detailed study of selected texts as detailed on Moodle. The primary focus of the course is on philosophy and the history of political thought, not political or social history.


10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 4 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Two essays are required of up to 3,000 words (one submitted in week 4 of MT and in week 4 of LT). There will also be a presentation from each student in LT. There will be a mock examination in the ST.

Indicative reading

A full Reading list will be provided at the start of the course on Moodle. The following represent basic introductory reading only, and students will be expected to give class presentations: T C W Blanning, The culture of power and the power of culture (2002); T Munck, The Enlightenment (2000); D Outram, The Enlightenment (1995); R Porter, The Enlightenment (2001); Anthologies: I Kramnik (Ed), The Portable Enlightenment Reader (1995).


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2012/13: 7

Average class size 2012/13: 8

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information