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BSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
HSTM Project

Unit code BIOL31250
Credit rating 30
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)
Available as a free choice unit? No


Centre for History of Science Technology and Medicine Project
Engage in independent and original research on an aspect of the development of modern science, technology and medicine and/or science communication. A recent project investigated the treatment of postnatal depression in 19th century asylums.


This project type requires completion of a minimum of one HSTM unit at level 1 or 2, or a level 3 HSTM unit taken simultaneously with literature searching in Semester 5. It’s occasionally possible to take a student without this experience if the supervisor approves.


This document provides a brief summary. Full details may be found in the document “Guidelines for Final-Level Projects in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine”, available on Blackboard.

FYPs aim to develop research skills, both bioscience and generic, promote independent learning, enhance the employability of students, and enrich the student experience.

Learning outcomes

Outcomes for students are that you should:

  • learn to work independently under research supervision to address a particular topic in the history (which can include contemporary history) of the life sciences, medicine, or science communication
  • be able to search for and critically review the literature in a particular field and relate your own research to that in the existing literature
  • develop critical and creative thinking skills (develop ideas, source analysis and evaluation skills, be able to form judgements)
  • develop problem solving skills: for example, how to compare and judge competing source claims, and synthesise positions from sources which address the same historical cases from differing perspectives
  • develop communication skills
  • write a historically grounded literature review and research project
  • develop oral presentation skills (tutorial talk)
  • liaise with supervisor, other staff and students, as appropriate
  • acquire additional project-specific skills as appropriate (such as database searching or archive skills).


Beginning your project

Over the summer vacation, you will be allocated a supervisor. You will be informed of the name of your supervisor as early as possible in the first semester of the final year. You should contact your allocated supervisor as soon as you are able in the new semester. S/he will introduce the research enquiry and how to begin literature searching in the field, usually providing some “starter” references which you should look at as background. You should begin work on your literature review no later than week 3).

Semester 5 review

HSTM students undertake a 10-credit assessment called the Semester 5 Review, which comprises a secondary literature review plus some scoping of primary materials and the development of a schedule for project completion. As for other project types, the unit code is BIOL30101.

Project thesis

Your project work spans semesters 5 and 6. In semester 5, you should plan your project, attend supporting seminars as appropriate, and begin preliminary work, which you will take forward in semester 6. You should be working regularly on researching and drafting the project thesis from at least the beginning of Semester 6. The unit code for the HSTM project type is BIOL31250.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical enquiry, including fact-checking and understanding the motives and contexts behind source claims; summarising source content; interpreting source material to provide support for a given argument.
You will construct an original historical argument about a case or episode, and write to persuade the reader.
In consultation with your supervisor, you will develop and refine your research enquiry, plan a structure for the project thesis, and plan a schedule for completion. You will gain experience in defending your proposals to your supervisor and negotiating on approaches.
Project management
You will gain experience in defining the central aims of a project, breaking it down into manageable component tasks, and scheduling those tasks to allow timely completion.
Oral communication
As part of the tutorial programme, you will deliver a 10-minute talk on your research project.
You will gain experience in literature and data searching, including tracing the development of ideas through the literature. You will also pick up skills from the primary source study, which, depending on the nature of the project, may be in oral history interviewing, archives research, sampling a historical data corpus, or close analytical reading of source texts.
Written communication
You will gain experience in writing well-structured prose, with full referencing according to humanities or social-science conventions (depending on the nature of the project), and with a focus on presenting a case clearly and persuasively to a reader who may be unfamiliar with the background.
This project type will involve working under supervision, working to deadlines, project planning, negotiating commitments with a supervisor, managing data, critically assessing the reliability and relevance of documents, and the writing of a clear, accessible and informative report.

Assessment methods

Both your Semester 5 Review and Project Thesis should be submitted via Blackboard as an electronic PDF file.

The deadline for submitting final reports is given on the front page of the final year handbook, or can be obtained from the Student Support Office. Details of assessment and marking criteria can be found in the “Guidelines for Final-Level Projects in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine” document on Blackboard.

Feedback methods

Students completing a Semester 5 Review can expect to receive formative feedback on an outline/plan plus a short extract (typically one paragraph). When a Literature Review has been marked, written feedback can be viewed in Blackboard, and verbal feedback will be provided by your supervisor.

You can expect to receive formative feedback on a full draft of your final thesis, but this will only be forthcoming if dates for obtaining feedback are agreed in advance with supervisors and are met!

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 5
Project supervision 35
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Duncan Wilson Unit coordinator

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