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MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Our taught MSc in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HSTM) focuses on key topics from the 19th century to the present, and gives students a critical perspective on global challenges such as:

  • The history of climate change
  • Questions about trust and expertise
  • The relationship between information technology and society
  • Science, race and empire
  • The politics of public health and access to medical care

The degree focuses on humanities skills, but can be taken successfully by students from any disciplinary background.

Our flexible curriculum provides breadth and choice across the history of science, technology and medicine, allowing you to tailor your studies to suit your interests. 

The new placement option allows you to gain transferable skills for employment by working with museums, charities, policy organisations and heritage bodies.

You will become and integrated member of a research community with dedicated facilities and a vibrant seminar programme.

You will learn from and work with world-leading staff, whose expertise encompasses political, social, and cultural approaches to the history of science, technology and medicine, from both national and global perspectives. 

Aims

This course aims to:

  • explore how science, technology and medicine have become integral to the ways in which we order, imagine and experience modern societies
  • provide opportunities to study significant historical and contemporary topics in depth, by working with experts across a number of fields and specialisms
  • prepare you for further academic study or employment by supporting the development of writing and presentation skills, and providing opportunities to gain professional experience outside universities
  • enable you to produce a major piece of original research and writing in the form of a dissertation.

Special features

Placement option 

The new placement unit option enables you to gain direct professional experience and enhance your CV by working with an organisation from the heritage, charitable or policymaking sectors. This allows you to gain practical experience that can be invaluable both in your studies and when applying for jobs after graduating.

Explore Manchester's history

Manchester is the classic 'shock city' of the Industrial Revolution and its environmental and social outcomes, and a global city whose identity is closely tied up with scientific discovery. You'll be able to relive the development of industrial society through visits to local museums and sites of historic interest.

Research support

We have 15 members of staff with expertise across the history of science, technology and medicine. All of our staff offer dissertation supervision in a range of specialist areas.

Opportunities for further study and experience

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.

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 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 the history of science, technology and medicine (30 credits)
  • Historiography of science, technology and medicine (15)
  • Communicating ideas in science, technology and medicine (15)

Semester 2: optional course units (accounting for 60 credits) from the below list, or students can choose to incorporate a maximum of 30 credits of course units from an affiliated programme:

  • Placement in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (30 credits)
  • Decolonising History of Science, Technology and Medicine (15 credits)
  • Madness and Society (15 credits)
  • Making Life: Biological Sciences since 1800 (15 credits)
  • Technology, identity and society (15 credits)
  • Nature and Artifice: Environmental Sciences since 1800 (15 credits)
  • Politics of Public Health (15 credits)
  • Risk: Science, Society and Culture (15 credits)
  • The Nuclear Age (15 credits)

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 the history of science, technology and medicine (30 credits).

Semester 2: 30 credits of optional course units from 

  • Placement in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (30 credits)
  • Decolonising History of Science (15 credits)
  • Madness and Society (15 credits)
  • Making Life: Biological Sciences since 1800 (15 credits)
  • Technology, identity and society (15 credits)
  • Nature and Artifice: Environmental Sciences since 1800 (15 credits)
  • Politics of Public Health (15 credits)
  • Risk: Science, Society and Culture (15 credits)
  • The Nuclear Age (15 credits)

Semester 3:

  • Historiography of science, technology and medicine (15)
  • Communicating ideas in science, technology and medicine (15)

Semester 4: 30 credits of optional course units from

  •   Placement in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (30 credits)
  • Decolonising History of Science (15 credits)
  • Madness and Society (15 credits)
  • Making Life: Biological Sciences since 1800 (15 credits)
  • Technology, identity and society (15 credits)
  • Nature and Artifice Environmental Sciences since 1800 (15 credits)
  • Politics of Public Health (15 credits)
  • Risk: Science, Society and Culture (15 credits)
  • The Nuclear Age (15 credits)

Plus:

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

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Major Themes in HSTM HSTM60511 30 Mandatory
Communicating ideas in STM HSTM60571 15 Mandatory
Dissertation in HSTM, Science Communication studies or Medical Humanities HSTM60632 60 Mandatory
Historiography of STM HSTM60651 15 Mandatory
Decolonizing History of Science HSTM60652 15 Optional
The Nuclear Age: Global Nuclear Threats from Hiroshima to Today HSTM60662 15 Optional
Risk: Science, Society and Culture HSTM60672 15 Optional
Technology, identity and society HSTM60682 15 Optional
Madness and Society in the Modern Age HSTM60692 15 Optional
Making Life: Biological Sciences since 1800 HSTM60702 15 Optional
Nature and Artifice: Environmental Sciences since 1800 HSTM60712 15 Optional
The Politics of Public Health HSTM60722 15 Optional
Placement in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine HSTM60732 30 Optional
Displaying 10 of 13 course units

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 the Manchester 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: dass@manchester.ac.uk