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Unit information: History of Science in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name History of Science
Unit code PHILM0007
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Tho
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces students to the discipline of the history of science by exploring contemporary debates surrounding the epistemological status of historical disciplines, the proper object of historiography and new
methodologies in the field. In recent years, new research in the history of the philosophy of science as well as expanded fields in science and technology studies has led to a renewed look at what it means to do the history of science and how historical claims should be philosophically understood. This unit provides the opportunity for masters (and advanced students) to examine contemporary work surrounding new methods (sociological, cultural, experimental, data-driven) in the history of science and revisit the debates between historicism-realism, externalism-internalism, continuist-discontinuist, and others. Alongside philosophical evaluations of the claims of historians of science, a number of test cases, drawn from the 17th and 18th century, will be examined.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Have acquired specialized knowledge and advanced understanding of core issues and debates in the history of science.
  2. Be able to construct and analyze sophisticated philosophical arguments and engage with other philosophers in constructive debate.
  3. Be able to evaluate historical documents contextually.
  4. Be able to do independent research.
  5. Be able to communicate ideas clearly and effectively to an audience.

Teaching details

1x2-hour seminar each week + essay tutorials

Assessment Details

In-class presentations and groupwork (20%)
One essay of 5,000 words (80%)

Reading and References

  1. Kuhn, T., Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
  2. Jardine, Nick. 2000. Uses and abuses of anachronism in the history of the sciences. History of Science 38: 251—70.
  3. Laerke, Mogens, Justin E. H. Smith, and Eric Schliesser (eds.). 2013.

Philosophy and Its History: Aims and Methods in the Study of Early Modern
of Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  1. Mauskopf, Seymour, Tad Schmaltz (eds.). 2011. Integrating History and Philosophy of Science: Problems and Prospects. Dordrecht: Springer.
  2. Skinner, Quentin. 1969. Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas. History and Theory 8 (1).