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Honoursmodule: Information revolutions in Big History


Esther Quaedackers

Entry requirements 

For 2nd or 3rd year honours students only. 

Recommended prior knowledge

It is recommended to have some knowledge about at least one of the following fields:

  • Big history
  • Biochemistry
  • Human evolution
  • AI

If you do not have any knowledge about any of these fields, but are highly motivated, a fast learner, or good at coming up with connections between different subjects, you are also very welcome to register.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the course the student can:

  • Describe how information technology and AI are currently developing;
  • Describe what we know about how life and human culture first developed;
  • Explain how during all of these processes, revolutions in storing, processing and exchanging information have impacted and are impacting the world, as they allowed for new types of learning and the development of increasingly complex systems;
  • Connect these revolutions, for instance by comparing them, in order to develop novel ideas about their nature and importance;
  • Reflect on what these connections may mean for the information revolution we currently find ourselves in.


The development of information technology and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing the way we interact with our social and natural environment to such an extent that this information revolution seems unprecedented.

But perhaps it is not.

Information revolutions have happened before, most notably during the origin of life and during the emergence of human culture. These developments were characterized by the evolution of new ways to store, process and exchange information, with the aid of the genetic code and human symbolic language respectively. As a result of this evolution, life and humans learned to learn in their own unique ways. This in turn allowed them to become significantly more complex than anything that had existed on Earth before. 

Will this happen again in the near future, or not? During this course, you will address this and other questions about the nature and importance of information revolutions by systematically exploring similarities and other connections between them. As a result, you will develop a better understanding of how information revolutions, including the one we currently find ourselves in, have impact and will impact our world.

Class contents

  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Presentation/Symposium


  • Mid term exam
  • Research paper
  • Presentation

Min/max participants

max. 25


Check Datanose for the exact information.

Study material

The study materials for this course will consist of videos, articles and chapters that will be provided through Canvas.


Registration is possible for 2nd year (or higher) students participating in an Honours programme. The registration for the Honours courses will start on June 1, 10 am -  June 4, 11 pm, You can register through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS (registration is NOT through SIS)

Placement will be at random and students will be informered about their placement in the week of June 21. 

There is NO guarantee for placement if you register AFTER June 4, so make sure you apply on time! 

For questions about registration please email to: Honours-iis@uva.nl

SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes, and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website

Facts & Figures
Mode Honours programme
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission
Starts in September