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UNC Burch Cosmos in London
This program will not run Summer 2019. Check back for updates for Summer 2020!
This Burch Field Research Seminar is a three-week, London-based program that focuses on Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo and other scholars of time that contributed to the practical knowledge of astronomy. Explore the birthplace of modern mechanics, the recovered wreck of King Henry VIII’s ship, and the complicated devices found at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
The phrase “scientific revolution” refers to a series of radical changes to our view of the cosmos and our methods for learning about it. But were the changes really radical, and is revolution the appropriate word? This course will examine the critical period from 1277 to 1610 during which the science and practical knowledge of astronomy emerged on separate but interacting tracks, coming together eventually in the application of sophisticated instruments to measure the heavens.
“London was a fitting location to teach this unique and thought–provoking course. We visited several sites of historical significance and relevance to the material. A great blend of astronomy, physics, history, and even some philosophy.”
- 2018 Participant
Students attend classes at the UNC European Studies Centre (Winston House) on Bedford Square in Bloomsbury in close proximity to the British Museum and the University of London. UNC's Winston House will serve as your home-away-from-home in London.
Students have access to WIFI, a small library and study area, as well as printing facilities.
London will become your classroom during a variety of excursions, including visits to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, Merton College, Oxford, and Portsmouth to see the recovered wreck of King Henry VIII’s ship the Mary Rose.
London provides a perfect departure point, not only to points of interest in southern England, but also to other cities in the British Isles and the European continent.
Students in this program will be enrolled in the following 3-credit course taught by Professor Christopher Clemens, Department of Physics and Astronomy
ASTR 105H - Time, Tides, and the Measurement of the Cosmos
Approach: elective credit - Physical and Life Sciences without Laboratory (PL), World before 1750 (WB)
This course is a modified, more focused revision of ASTR 205: the Modern Foundations of Modern Cosmology, designed to take advantage of the opportunities available for enriched learning in England. The course will be problem-based, e.g. how did people reckon calendars, time, and tides, both for navigation and daily life, before clocks and the printed word? Students will first examine the process of discovery and the intermediate state of historical research before constructing their own research theses that might bring some key questions to conclusion.
Examples of proposed research topics are:
To what extent did Galileo incorporate Mertonian methods in mechanics into his understanding of falling bodies? What was original with him?
Did Galileo know the observational facts about tides, available since Bede and known to all mariners? If so, did he choose to ignore them? To what extent was his progressive or humanist rejection of Aristotle responsible for his untenable tide theory?
How widespread was the ability to calculate lunar phases on the fingers? Were the requirements of Charlemagne, reiterated by the Council of Trent, that all clergy be able to perform these calculations taken seriously? Why did Clavius, contemporary of Galileo, write a tract updating the Computus Ecclesiasticus per Digitorum Articulos for the Gregorian Calendar?
Courses in this program are UNC Graded Credit.
UNC Graded Credit Programs (often taught by UNC Faculty): No action required
These courses automatically show up on your Tar Heel Tracker and UNC Transcript.
You will receive a letter grade for those courses, and this does affect your GPA.
Students share flats (what apartments are called in Britain) with other program participants. All flats are located in the Bloomsbury area of central London and have WIFI access, fully-equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, as well as weekly cleaning and maintenance service. Flats are in walking distance to public transportation.
Review the Budget Sheet posted above for detailed information on costs and fees. Costs vary per term and are subject to change.
Tuition and fees for the program are based on the cost of operating the program abroad and are subject to change due to exchange rate fluctuation. Tuition and fees will be charged to the participant’s UNC student account. Review the Budget Sheet for additional Cashier Billed Expenses and Out-of-Pocket Costs. The Study Abroad Office strongly encourages students to budget carefully for their time abroad.
Getting Started: Funding Study Abroad
Complete the required UNC application by clicking “Apply Now” at the top of the page. If you have not done so already, create a profile to start your application.
Selected applicants may be required to interview with program faculty and staff.
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For information on requesting ARS accommodations (academic, health, and mobility concerns) for a study abroad program, contact the Advisor for Access.