Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Theory and Practice in HSTM and Medical Humanities

Unit code HSTM60651
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Faculty of Life Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This unit provides an introduction to the related scholarly fields of HSTM and MH.  HSTM and MH pathway students will meet jointly most weeks to discuss common issues, but breakout tutorials and directed coursework will enable them to address questions that are particular to one field or the other as appropriate.

Themes addressed include:

  • The historiography of STM: progressive versus revolutionary narratives; “internal” and “external”, idealist and materialist accounts; social constructivism and actor-network theory
  • STM, identity and difference
  • Geographies of knowledge and the power of place
  • Analysing texts and telling stories: biography and narrative
  • Collecting data: archival research and ethnography
  • Who is the audience for HSTM and MH? The challenges of dialogue

Aims

The unit aims to:

  • introduce students to key methodological and analytical approaches to the history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM) and medical humanities (MH);
  • give students an understanding of changing scholarly approaches to the understanding of HSTM;
  • give students an understanding of how the interdisciplinary field of MH has developed in conjunction and contrast to HSTM
  • enable students to analyse critically key methods and techniques used by researchers to understand and analyze science, technology and medicine in their historical and cultural contexts;
  • give students the skills and knowledge to produce critical writing of scholarly books and articles that reveal and assess approaches, methods and techniques
  • promote scholarly reflection on the relationship between expert knowledge of STM and human experience;
  • enable students to communicate HSTM and MH concepts and approaches through a variety of media.

Syllabus

Class contact time consists mostly of seminar discussions (three hours per fortnight) based on assigned readings. In the later sessions, students will lead discussions with presentations on specific readings. All students are required to read all the sources in advance, whether presenting or not. Required and recommended readings are also assigned for all lectures.

The unit will be supported by a wide range of background readings. All slides and other materials used in class will be hosted on Blackboard unless electronically accessible elsewhere.

Students are encouraged to raise questions about the course in class or via email, and the group email list is sometimes used to continue general discussion on course themes.

Students write two essays, delivered via Turnitin, in which they are required to identify and evaluate scholarly approaches to STM in context. All essays are double-marked, with written comments on both scripts and structured assessment sheets returned to the students. Teaching staff are available for individual discussion.

Teaching and learning methods

Class contact time consists mostly of seminar discussions (three hours per fortnight) based on assigned readings. In the later sessions, students will lead discussions with presentations on specific readings. All students are required to read all the sources in advance, whether presenting or not. Required and recommended readings are also assigned for all lectures.

The unit will be supported by a wide range of background readings (see current HSTM60551 handbook for a representative indication). All slides and other materials used in class will be hosted on Blackboard unless electronically accessible elsewhere.

Students are encouraged to raise questions about the course in class or via email, and the group email list is sometimes used to continue general discussion on course themes.

Students write two essays, delivered via Turnitin, in which they are required to identify and evaluate scholarly approaches to STM in context. All essays are double-marked, with written comments on both scripts and structured assessment sheets returned to the students. Teaching staff are available for individual discussion.

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe and analyse historical and other scholarly approaches to HSTM and MH

Intellectual skills

  • conduct independent research using primary and secondary sources
  • critically and comparatively appraise source texts
  • identify and critically analyse a variety of different approaches and methods for research and argument
  • select and apply appropriate approaches and methods to particular research questions

Practical skills

  • appreciate the practical skills required in research, from question formulation to publication
  • clearly present an argument in essay form using appropriate source documentation

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • contribute to group discussion
  • read, summarise and critically examine texts

Assessment methods

  • One essay reviewing the literature on a particular historiographic problem or methodological approach

               1500 to 2000 words

                50%

 

  • One essay presenting an argument on a particular historiographic problem or methodological approach

             1500 to 2000 words

              50%

Feedback methods

General comments on standard programme feedback sheet; specific notes via GradeMark; standard turnaround time applies

Recommended reading

A comprehensive reading list is distributed at the beginning of the course. Useful introductory reading includes:

  • Helge Kragh, An Introduction to the Historiography of Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987)
  • Ronald Doel and Thomas Soderqvist, eds, The Historiography of Contemporary Science, Technology and Medicine: Writing Recent Science (London: Routledge, 2006)
  • Jan Golinski, Making Natural Knowledge: Constructivism and the History of Science, 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005)
  • James A Secord, “Knowledge in transit”, Isis 95 (2004): 654-672
  • Deborah Kirklin and Ruth Richardson, Medical Humanities: A Practical Approach (London: Royal College of Physicians, 2001)

Selected readings from Medical Humanities (BMJ Journals)

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Sumner Unit coordinator
Elizabeth Toon Unit coordinator

Return to course details