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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


This course has been cancelled. Please register your interest by using the ‘Ask a Question’ function and we will notify you when this course, or a similar course, is next run.

Can life be created from lifeless matter? Is it possible to transform natural substances? And can the knowledge of nature be a path to spiritual transformation? These are questions that fascinated early modern philosophers interested in alchemy. This course will reveal the rich philosophical foundations of alchemy, with a main focus on early modernity and the writings of thinkers such as Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (known as Paracelsus), and Jacob Böhme. Key ideas that will be discussed are the theory (and practice) of artificially creating life, the connection between the study of nature and its transformation, and the use of alchemy as a spiritual practice. The course ends with an excursus into the literary afterlives of these ideas, offering in particular a new approach to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.


Fees & bursaries


The course fee includes tuition, tea, coffee and lunch and travel on excursions (but not entrance fees to properties visited).

VAT does not apply to course fees and there is no service charge (gratuities to domestic staff are left to your discretion).


You may cancel a course booking at any time. After the 14 day cancellation period has expired, the standard ICE course cancellation policy will apply. Please view our refund and cancellation policy for further details.


The Cambridge University Press (CUP) Bursary Fund offers a bursary of 50% of the course fee to applicants who teach in a UK state school or state-funded further education institution, applying to study a day school, weekend course or online course.

Unless otherwise stated, teaching and assessment for ICE courses are in English. Students whose first language is not English should refer to the Competence in the English Language Policy for further guidance.

Printable versions of our brochures are available to download from the Institute Publications page.

Course dates

11 Jan 2020

Course duration

1 Day

Apply by

03 Jan 2020

Course fee


Academic Directors, Course Directors and Tutors are subject to change, when necessary.


Institute of Continuing Education
University of Cambridge
CB23 8AQ
United Kingdom

Qualifications / Credits


Teaching sessions

Meetings: 1

Course code