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HSTM Project

Course unit fact file
Unit code BIOL31250
Credit rating 40
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

•      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

Aquire additional project specific skills (database searches/Archive skills)



Beginning your project

Projects are worth 40 credits. Students will be allocated a Supervisor in the first semesterof the final year.  Students are advised to contact their allocated Supervisor as soon as possible; Supervisors will discuss th etype of project with the student and th etopic on which it is based.

Semester 5 review

HSTM project students will attend a HSTM seminar series to enable them to acquire skills necessary for the scholarship of history and undertake a preliminary analysis in semester 5. Details will be provided in the training module.  

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 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.


15 % of unit mark: Semester 5 Analysis (Supervisor and moderator)

75% of unit mark: Final report (Semester 6; Supervisor and moderator)

10% of unit mark: Project performance (Semester 6; Supervisor only)

    • Use of initiative
    • Student input to planning & design of the project
    • Mastery of skills (if appropriate)
    • Organisation of work
    • Communication with supervisor, team, other staff etc
    • Reliability, effort & persistence

Feedback methods

  • Students will receive formative feedback on the Semester 5 Analysis. This piece of work could then form the introduction to the main report in Semester 6
  • Students can expect to receive formative feedback on the bulk of the report prior to submission in Semester 6.
  • Feedback will only be forthcoming if dates for obtaining feedback are agreed with supervisors and are met

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 5
Project supervision 35
Independent study hours
Independent study 40

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ian Burney Unit coordinator

Additional notes


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.