MA History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Major Themes in HSTM

Course unit fact file
Unit code HSTM60511
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course surveys the modern history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM), by exploring key issues and themes that have shaped their development, social relations and cultural significance, from roughly the seventeenth century to the present. Analysing these key issues in HSTM introduces you to major historiographical concerns such as relations between professionals and the broader public, the role of STM in nation building, how expertise is both established and contested, the nature and significance of controversies, colonialism and its legacies, and relations between local studies and the ‘big picture’.

As this is a team-taught course drawing on staff research interests, the exact content will vary. However, it will generally include the following:

  • Expertise and Trust
  • Sex and Gender
  • Race
  • Sites and Institutions
  • STM and the Nation State
  • Science and Religion
  • Pandemics and Public Health
  • Biomedicine and the Public
  • Postwar Technology
  • Climate Crisis


The unit aims to:

  • introduce the key themes and issues in the historical development of science, technology and medicine from the early modern period to the present
  • provide an integrated survey of the theoretical and historiographical approaches used in the study of the development of modern STM
  • stimulate critical and informed judgment on the development of modern scientific, technological and medical knowledge
  • give students a good grasp of the common features and contrasts between the history of science, history of technology and the history of medicine
  • enable students to develop and practice the skills of historical research and writing.

Assessment methods

Critical Analysis (1000 words) 20%

Essay One (2000 words) 40%

Essay Two (2000 words) 40%

Feedback methods

The seminar discussion format of the course gives all students regular opportunities to discuss their ideas with teaching staff. Staff are also available to discuss essay proposals, seminar performance, and general course performance by appointment, on a one-to-one basis. All coursework is double-marked, and essay scripts are returned to the students with both sets of markers’ comments. Examiners’ notes on exam scripts are not normally released, but may be viewed on request.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 300

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Duncan Wilson Unit coordinator

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