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Subject Summary: Part III History and Philosophy of Science

This course gives students with relevant experience at Part II the opportunity to carry out focussed research in History and Philosophy of Science. It provides students with the opportunity to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests, and enables them to develop a critical and well informed understanding of the roles of the sciences in society.  The course is intended for students planning a career in the subject and will provide the requisite research skills to enable them to prepare a well-planned and focussed PhD proposal.

HPS Part III will have a core in the form of a weekly seminar which will be examinable by means of two essays set at the division of Lent Term. Students will submit two research papers, one by the division of michaelmas and one by the division of Lent.  In the second part of Lent term and the first half of Easter, students will contribute to the weekly seminar by presenting their own work in progress, and discussing the issues that arise from it, on the dissertation which they will submit at the end of the Easter term.

Programme Specification: Part III History and Philosophy of Science

Aims

  1. to give students with relevant experience at Part II the opportunity to carry out focussed research in History and Philosophy of Science under close supervision;
  2. to give students the opportunity to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests;
  3. to enable students to acquire a critical and well informed understanding of the roles of the sciences in society;
  4. to help students intending to go on to doctoral work to acquire the requisite research skills and to enable them to prepare a well planned and focussed PhD proposal.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students should have:

  1. developed a deeper knowledge of their chosen area of HPS and of the critical debates within it;
  2. acquired a conceptual understanding that enables the evaluation of current research and methodologies;
  3. formed a critical view of the roles of the sciences in society;
  4. acquired or consolidated historiographic, philosophical, linguistic, technical and ancillary skills appropriate for research in their chosen areas;
  5. demonstrated independent judgement, based on their own research;
  6. presented their own ideas in a public forum and learned to contribute constructively within an international environment.

Teaching and learning methods

The course is taught via: 

  • lectures; personal study; weekly participation in the research seminar and regular participation in others of the department's 15 seminars and reading groups; regular one-to-one supervisions;
  • students requiring linguistic skills are directed to the relevant University language centre classes; students needing Latin are directed to the relevant classes in the Classics Faculty and take part in the Department's Latin Therapy group; students working on scientific instruments receive specialist training from the Museum Curator and Museum Staff;

Assessment

Course performance is assessed on the basis of:

  • two research papers, each of not more than 5,000 words on topics chosen in discussion with a supervisor and approved by the HPS Board; (aims 1-4 and learning outcomes 1-5)
  • two set essays, each of not more than 2,500 words, from a list of topics drawn from those covered by the weekly research seminar; (aims 1-3 and learning outcomes 1-5)
  • a dissertation, of not more than 12,000 words on a topic chosen in discussion with a supervisor and approved by the HPS Board (aims 1-4 and learning outcomes 1-5)

Courses of Preparation

The detailed entry requirements can be found at The Fourth Year - Part III.

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.