The MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine is a full-time 9-month course that provides students with the opportunity to carry out focused research under close supervision by senior members of the University. Students will 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 will 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 will 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.
The educational aims of the programme are:
- to give students with relevant training at first-degree level the opportunity to carry out focussed research in History, Philosophy of Science and Medicine under close supervision; - to give students the opportunity to acquire or develop skills and expertise relevant to their research interests; - to enable students to acquire a critical and well informed understanding of the roles of the sciences in society; and - to help students intending to go on to doctoral work to acquire the requisite research skills and to prepare a well planned and focussed PhD proposal.
The MPhil course is taught by supervisions and seminars and assessed by three research essays and a dissertation.
The topics of the essays and dissertation should each fall within the following specified subject areas:
1. General philosophy of science 2. History of ancient and medieval science, technology and medicine 3. History of early modern science, technology and medicine 4. History of modern science, technology and medicine 5. History, philosophy and sociology of the life sciences 6. History, philosophy and sociology of the physical and mathematical sciences 7. History, philosophy and sociology of the social and psychological sciences 8. History, philosophy and sociology of medicine 9. Ethics and politics of science 10. History and methodology of history, philosophy and sociology of science, technology and medicine
The MPhil seminars are the core teaching resource for this course. In the first part of year these seminars are led by different senior members of the Department and focus on selected readings. During the rest of the year the seminars provide opportunities for MPhil students to present their own work.
Students are encouraged to attend the lectures, research seminars, workshops and reading groups that make the Department a hive of intellectual activity. The Department also offers graduate training workshops, which focus on key research, presentation, publication and employment skills.
The MPhil programme is administered by the MPhil Manager, who meets all new MPhil students as a group in early October, then sees each of the students individually to discuss their proposed essay and dissertation topics. The Manager is responsible for finding appropriate supervisors for each of these topics; the supervisors are then responsible for helping the student do the research and writing needed for the essays and the dissertation. Students will see each of their supervisors frequently; the MPhil Manager sees each student at regular intervals during the year to discuss progress and offer help and advice.
Supervisions are designed to provide students with the opportunity to set their own agenda for their studies. The supervisor's job is to support the student's research, not to grade their work – supervisors are formally excluded from the examination process.
- developed a deeper knowledge of their chosen areas of History, Philosophy of Science and Medicine and of the critical debates within them; - acquired a conceptual understanding that enables the evaluation of current research and methodologies; - formed a critical view of the roles of the sciences in society.
- Skills and other attributes -
By the end of the course students should have:
- acquired or consolidated historiographic, linguistic, technical and ancillary skills appropriate for research in their chosen area; - demonstrated independent judgement, based on their own research; - presented their own ideas in a public forum and learned to contribute constructively within an international environment.
- A dissertation of up to 15,000 words. Examiners may request an oral examination but this is not normally required. - Three essays, each of up to 5,000 words.
Students receive independent reports from two examiners on each of their three essays and the dissertation.
The usual preconditions for continuing to the PhD are an overall first class mark in the MPhil, a satisfactory performance in an interview and agreement of the PhD proposal with a potential supervisor.