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Graduate Admissions

About the Department of History and Philosophy of Science

The Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge is the largest institution of its kind in the UK and has an outstanding international reputation for teaching and research. Human and material resources are excellent.

Specialist staff teach a wide range of subjects across the history, philosophy and sociology of the sciences and medicine. The environment is exemplary in the number of externally-funded research groups, the lively community of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and the active programme of research seminars and reading groups. HPS also has close links to other university institutions across the medical, natural and social sciences, the arts and the humanities, including through the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, and to the Needham Research Institute, the leading Western centre for the history of science, technology and medicine in East Asia.

Located in the heart of Cambridge, the Department is centred on the Whipple Museum, a world-class collection of scientific instruments, and the Whipple Library, the largest specialist library in history and philosophy of science and medicine in the UK. The holdings of this and the other Cambridge libraries, including the University Library, are among the richest in the world.

The pass rate in all courses approaches 100%, and in recent years about 80% of successful doctoral students have taken posts in the field of HPS. Students go on to a wide range of careers, from academic work in universities, museums and libraries to science journalism and consultancy.

3 courses offered in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science

The MPhil in Health, Medicine and Society is a full-time one year course run jointly by the Departments of History and Philosophy of Science, Sociology and Social Anthropology. It introduces students from a range of backgrounds to research skills and specialist knowledge relevant to their research interests, and provides them with the opportunity to carry out focused research under close supervision by senior members of the University. Students will develop a critical and well-informed understanding of discourses of history, philosophy, sociology and anthropology of health and medicine, and those intending to go on to doctoral work will learn the skills needed to help them prepare a well-planned and focused PhD proposal.

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The Department of History and Philosophy of Science has around 45 PhD students at any one time, their thesis topics covering the full range of history and philosophy of the sciences and medicine. PhD students are part of an exceptionally lively interdisciplinary community, with unparalleled opportunities to learn from and exchange ideas with staff, postdoctoral researchers and visitors here and across the University, and to use the outstanding facilities.

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The MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine is a full-time one year course that provides students with the opportunity to carry out focused research under close supervision by senior members of the University. Students acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests, as well as a critical and well-informed understanding of the roles of the sciences in society. Those intending to go on to doctoral work learn the research skills needed to help them prepare a well-planned and focused PhD proposal. During the course students gain experience of presenting their own work and discussing the issues that arise from it with an audience of their peers and senior members of the Department; they attend lectures, supervisions and research seminars in a range of technical and specialist subjects central to research in the different areas of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine.

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Department Members


Professor Liba Taub
Head of Department

  • 15 Academic Staff
  • 20 Postdoctoral Researchers
  • 75 Graduate Students
  • 140 Undergraduates

http://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/

Research Areas