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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC3151 Methods and Themes in History of Science

20 creditsClass Size: 15

In light of the effect of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions on students' learning experiences, the School of PRHS have made the decision to modify assessment in Semester 2 modules in the 2020-21 academic year. Changes may involve reducing the number of assessment points (e.g. assessing one essay rather than two) or reducing word counts where it is possible to do so whilst protecting the integrity of the module's Learning Outcomes. Information on any changes to assessment is available to enrolled students in the Minerva module area, and can also be sought from the module leader or the PRHS SES team.

Module manager: Simone Turchetti

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

Pre-requisite qualifications

Any Level 2 module in History of Science or equivalent.

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

In this module students examine the methods and themes of the historian of science (the historiography of science). In the course of this module, students will study the writing of history as an activity that has changed significantly over time. The module will generally cover matters of narrative, analysis, interpretation, form and structure as evidenced in history of science writing.


The overall aim of the course is reflexive, i.e it is designed to promote a sophisticated, analytical self-awareness for final-year historians of science, through encounters with the narrative, analytical and interpretive strategies of the best and most significant historians of science, both past and present.

Learning outcomes
1. To understand how conceptions of the history of science, and how to write it, have changed since the eighteenth century;
2. To analyse the methods and themes that distinguish one form of historiography to another;
3. To develop an appreciation for the relationship between the sciences and histories of science;
4. To shown an ability to reflect on the writing of science now in the light of changing methods and themes in the historiography of science.


1. Overviews
2. The Enlightenment
3. Whewell
4. Professionalization (Sarton)
5. Marxist approaches
6. Scientific revolutions (Koyre, Kuhn)
7. Foucaultian approaches
8. Social constructionism
9. Feminist approaches
10. Book historical approaches
11. Historiography of Contemporary science

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study will include: general reading; seminar preparation (including preparation of presentations); and essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The mid-semester essay will serve as an opportunity to monitor student progress.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words50.00
Essay2,000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 08/06/2009


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