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History of Science, Technology and Medicine (including Medical Humanities award route) (MSc)

Course content

Our MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine taught master's course focuses on a broad range of mostly 19th and 20th century case studies, from the local to the global.

We will explore key debates such as:

  • Why does Britain have a National Health Service?
  • Can better science education cure economic problems?
  • How did epidemic disease affect the colonial ambitions of the European powers?
  • Why do we end up depending on unreliable technologies?

Your studies will pay particular attention to the roles of sites, institutions, and schools of thought and practice, and to the changing ways in which scientists and medics have communicated with non-specialist audiences.

You will learn through lectures, seminars and tutorials and gain experience of historical essay-writing, before researching and writing an extensive dissertation on a specialised topic, supervised by experienced researchers.

This MSc focuses on humanities skills, but may be taken successfully by students from any disciplinary background. It works both as an advanced study course for students with undergraduate experience in the history of science, technology and medicine, and as a conversion route for students from other backgrounds, often in the sciences, but also including general history, social policy, and other fields.

The History of Science, Technology and Medicine pathway is appropriate if you have wide-ranging interests across the field, or are interested in the histories of the physical sciences or the life sciences in particular.

If you wish to focus on biomedicine or healthcare, you may prefer the Medical Humanities pathway. If you are particularly interested in contemporary science communication or policy, you should consider the MSc Science Communication course.

Aims

This course aims to:

  • explore the histories of theories, practices, authority claims, institutions and people, spaces and places, and communication in science, technology and medicine, across their social, cultural and political contexts;
  • provide opportunities to study particular topics of historical and contemporary significance in depth, and to support the development of analytical skills in understanding the changing form and function of science, technology and medicine in society;
  • encourage and support the development of transferable writing and presentational skills of the highest standard, and thereby prepare students for further academic study or employment;
  • provide a comprehensive introduction to research methods in the history of science, technology and medicine, including work with libraries, archives, databases, and oral history;
  • enable students to produce a major piece of original research and writing in the form of a dissertation.

Special features

Extensive support

Receive dedicated research support from the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine , the longest-established centre for the integrated study of the field.

Extra opportunities

Take up optional classes and volunteering opportunities shared with the parallel MSc Science Communication course at Manchester, including science policy, science media, museums and public events activities.

Explore Manchester's history

Manchester is the classic 'shock city' of the Industrial Revolution. You can relive the development of industrial society through field trips and visits.

Convenient study options

Benefit from flexible options for full or part-time study.

Teaching and learning

Teaching includes a mixture of lectures and small-group seminar discussions built around readings and other materials. We emphasise the use both of primary sources, and of current research in the field.

Most students will also visit local museums and other sites of interest to work on objects or archives.

All students meet regularly with a mentor from the Centre's PhD community, a designated personal tutor from among the staff, and, from Semester 2, a dissertation supervisor. 

Coursework and assessment

Assessment is mostly based on traditional essay-format coursework submission.

All MSc students undertake a research dissertation (or optionally, for Medical Humanities students, a portfolio of creative work) accounting for 60 of the 180 credits.

Course unit details

You are required to complete 180 credits in the following course units to be awarded this MSc:

Semester 1 course units (credits)

  • Major themes in HSTM (30 credits)
  • Theory and practice in HSTM and Medical Humanities (15)
  • Research and communication skills (15)

Semester 2: two optional course units (30 credits each) from the below list, or one from the below plus 30 credits of course units from an affiliated programme:

  • Shaping the sciences
  • Making modern technology
  • Medicine, science and modernity

plus:

  • Dissertation in the history of science, technology and/or medicine (60)

Course structure (part-time)

Part-time students study alongside full-timers, taking half the same content each semester over two years.

You are required to complete 180 credits in the following course units to be awarded this MSc:

Semester 1: Major themes in HSTM (30 credits).

Semester 2: one optional course unit (30 credits each) from

  • Shaping the sciences
  • Making modern technology
  • Medicine, science and modernity

Semester 3:

  • Theory and practice in HSTM and Medical Humanities (15)
  • Research and communication skills (15)

Semester 4: one further optional course unit (30) from CHSTM as seen above, or 30 credits of course units from an approved affiliated programme.

Plus:

  • Dissertation in HSTM (60 credits) across second year and during the summer

Facilities

All MSc students have use of a shared office in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, including networked computer terminals and storage space, and use of the dedicated subject library housed in the PhD office nearby.

The Centre is located within a few minutes' walk of the University of Manchester Library , the largest non-deposit library in the UK.

Resources for student research projects within the University include the object collections of theManchester Museum , also nearby on campus, and the John Rylands Library special collections facility in the city centre.

CHSTM also has a close working relationship with other institutions offering research facilities to students, notably the Museum of Science and Industry .

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: 


Visit the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (including Medical Humanities award route) (MSc) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!

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