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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

History of Science, Technology and Medicine MSc

This programme explores the histories of science, technology and medicine (HSTM) through a wide range of case studies, from the emergence of professional scientific disciplines such as physics and biology, to the growth of ‘Big Science’ in the Cold war era, to the complex history of the National Health Service. We focus on the integrated understanding of HSTM through consideration of sites, institutions, and schools of thought and practice, and pay particular attention to how scientists and medics have communicated with non-specialist audiences.

Teaching consists of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Reflecting CHSTM’s established research strengths, coverage focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century cases. Students will gain experience in historical essay-writing before researching and writing an extensive dissertation on a specialised topic, supervised by experienced researchers.

This MSc is appropriate for students from any disciplinary background. It works both as an advanced study course for students with undergraduate experience in HSTM, and as a conversion route for students from other backgrounds (often in the sciences, but also including general history, social policy, and other fields).

The HSTM pathway is the most appropriate for students who have wide-ranging interests across the field, or are interested in the histories of the physical sciences or the life sciences in particular. If you wish to focus on biomedicine or healthcare, you may prefer the Medical Humanities pathway. If you are particularly interested in contemporary science communication or policy, you should consider the parallel Science Communication MSc programme.


Course aims

The course aims to

  • explore the histories of theories, practices, authority claims, institutions and people, spaces and places, and communication in science, technology and medicine, across their social, cultural and political contexts
  • provide an opportunity and open access to study particular topics of historical and contemporary significance in depth encourage and support the development of analytical skills in understanding the changing form and function of science, technology and medicine in society
  • encourage and support the development of transferable writing and presentational skills of the highest standard, and thereby prepare students for further academic study or employment
  • provide a comprehensive introduction to research methods in the history of science, technology and medicine, including work with libraries, archives, databases and oral history
  • enable students to produce a major piece of original research and writing in the form of a dissertation

Course structure (full-time)

The full-time version of the course covers one year, from September to September. In Semester 1 (September to January), all students study the following taught course units, consisting of lectures and seminars:

In Semester 2 (February to May), students take two optional course units from CHSTM, or one CHSTM unit plus 30 credits of course units from an affiliated programme.

Beginning in Semester 2 and across the summer, students work independently under supervision on a larger project:

Course structure (part-time)

Part-time students study alongside full-timers, taking half the same content each semester over two years.

In semester 1 (September to January of the first year), all students take Major themes in HSTM (30 credits).

In semester 2 (February to May), students study one optional course unit from CHSTM.

In semester 3 (September to January of the second year), students take two smaller courses:

In semester 4, students take one further optional course unit from CHSTM, or 30 credits of course units from an affiliated programme.

Across the second year and during the summer, students work independently under supervision on a larger project:


All students choose 60 credits of optional taught courses. CHSTM itself offers three options:

and there may be opportunities to choose a combination of 15-credit options offered as part of the Science Communication MSc.

Alternatively, students may (subject to approval) choose to spend 30 credits from among a wide variety of course units in allied subject areas in the University, including History, which offers advanced units specialising in modern British and European social and cultural history; Social Anthropology, which includes specialists in technology, art and medicine; and Art History and Visual Cultures, whose staff share our interests in social history, representation, and the body.


Many students go on to PhD research in the history of science, technology and medicine. Others have developed relevant careers in museums, libraries and archives; teaching; journalism and copywriting; science and healthcare policy and advisory work; and non-laboratory-based science.

Roles currently held by graduates of the HSTM Master’s programme include:

  • Senior Policy Analyst, Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Research Fellow, Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham
  • Director, Scientia Scripta (science-focused copywriting agency)
  • Systems Manager, New School University, New York
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Policy and Research Officer, Breast Cancer Now
  • PhD researcher on history of neurasthenia, Autonomous University Barcelona
  • Technical Author, Calrec Audio
  • Curator, History of Science, Technology and Medicine Museum, University of Leeds

Entry requirements

This programme normally requires an Upper Second-class (2:1) honours degree in the United Kingdom, or the overseas equivalent. Applicants should provide transcripts or study plans indicating performance on the most relevant course content. An applicant may also be exceptionally accepted based on evidence of alternative study, research or professional experience, provided this meets the University’s central requirements.

Fees and funding

The fees for September 2018 admission will be:

  • Home/EU students: £9500 (full-time) or £4750 (part-time, first year)
  • International students: £18 000 (full-time) or £9000 (part-time, first year)

A limited range of grants and studentships is available, mainly for students aiming to go on to full-time research. For full details, see the postgraduate taught funding page.

How to apply

See how to apply for details.

Further information

For further details, please see the HSTM programme profile in the University’s postgraduate taught courses guide. This includes a link to the online application form.

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