Graduate Certificate in Science (History and Philosophy of Science)

The information on this page applies to future students. Current students should refer to their faculty handbooks for course information.

What is science? Why do we trust it to give us the truth about reality? How does it shape our society? Through socio-historical and philosophical techniques, the Graduate Certificate in Science (History and Philosophy of Science) will enable you to critically examine the fields of science, technology and medicine and deepen your understanding of their social, political, cultural, and conceptual ramifications.

Sitting at the intersection of arts and science, the Graduate Certificate in Science (HPS) is a fascinating course that offers a balanced introduction to the study of history, philosophy and social studies in science and medicine.

Completed part-time over one year, the Graduate Certificate will inform you about what makes science different from other forms of knowledge. You will be introduced to the most important attempts to define the nature of science, the methods behind those interpretations, and how this has come into play in specific episodes in the history of science.

Our selection of courses will give you the option to either focus on the philosophy of biomedical sciences, bioethics, or the history of medicine. Or you might like to work on the history and philosophy of the physical sciences, mathematics, or early modern science.

As part of your studies you will reflect on the place of science in modern society as well as the ethical implications of science. Upon completion of this course you will have acquired a combination of basic research skills and the ability to identify and examine the conceptual and social dimensions of science, technology and medicine using a variety of scholarly techniques.

Course outline

Study plan

The course is completed normally over the course of two semesters on a part time basis only.

You will complete a total of 24 credit points from the following units of study (each worth 6 credit points): HPSC4101, HPSC4102, HPSC4103, HPSC4104, HPSC4105 and HPSC4108.

HPSC4105 is compulsory for all students irrespective of background.

Course outline

Study plan

The course is completed normally over the course of two semesters on a part time basis only.

You will complete a total of 24 credit points (cp) from the following units of study (6cp each): HPSC4104, HPSC4102, HPSC4103, HPSC4104, HPSC4105, HPSC4108, HPSC4201.

HPSC4108 is compulsory for, and available only to those students who have not completed a major in history and philosophy of science or equivalent.

Further course information

Progression rules

Under normal progression, a student shall undertake and successfully complete all units of study to the value of 12 credit points per semester as prescribed for the course.

Candidate must maintain a credit average result or above, should they wish to progress on from the Graduate Certificate in Science (History and Philosophy of Science) to the Graduate Diploma in Science.

Students are required to attend all lectures, tutorials and other activities prescribed for their units of study.

Course outcomes and further study

Graduate opportunities

The Graduate Certificate in Science (History and Philosophy of Science) can inform many career paths. Science and medical policy, science journalism, science communication and the management of science and medicine are just some of the areas in which our graduates work. Many of our former students have successfully pursued further study in a range of internationally recognised academic programs. In addition, postgraduate programs can provide career enhancement for those whose previous technical training does not meet their current job needs.

Further study

Many of our graduates have successfully pursued further study in a range of internationally recognised academic programs. If you would like to be part of Sydney's research community, you may wish to consider applying for admission to a higher degree by research. Research can be completed through an honours program, a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Students completing a research degree undertake supervised research and submit a written thesis at the completion of their studies.

Other study options

It is possible for non-degree students to enrol in a unit of study (subject)
offered in the Faculty of Science without being enrolled in an award course (degree). This provides a valuable opportunity for professionals to update their knowledge to enhance career pathways or for personal interest. Non-degree students pay full tuition fees, take the unit of study with award course students, and are assessed at the same level. Non-degree applicants meet the same prerequisites as students enrolled in an award course at the University of Sydney (or have completed equivalent units of study at another institution) to be able to enrol in any particular unit of study.

More information about non-degree study:

Units of study may also be undertaken cross-institutionally by students,
subject to the approval of the Dean. Cross-institutional candidates are
enrolled in an award course at another university and have approval from
their home institution to complete a unit or units of study at Sydney, to be
credited toward their degree.

More information about cross-institutional study:


Admission requirements

Admission to the Graduate Certificate in Science (History and Philosophy of Science) requires a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Medical Science or Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Liberal Studies, or any bachelor’s degree from the University of Sydney, or equivalent qualification.

Upon successful completion of the Graduate Certificate in Science (History and Philosophy of Science), students may gain entry to the Graduate Diploma in Science to undertake a further research project in the area of history and philosophy of science. A separate admission application for the Graduate Diploma in Science is required.

A very limited number of Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) may be available to domestic applicants for this course from year to year. For S1, 2017 commencements, all domestic applicants who apply by 31 January 2017 and are successful for admission into this course are automatically ranked and assessed for CSP by the Faculty of Science on the basis of academic merit. No additional application to the Faculty is required. Only top-ranked applicants will be granted CSP, subject to yearly availability. Late applicants will not be considered for CSP.

The academic requirements that are displayed are applicable to currently available courses only, and are updated annually in October and may be changed without notice. The Handbooks Online and the University of Sydney Calendar are the official legal source of information relating to study at the University of Sydney, and you are referred to those documents.

How to apply

Domestic students

How to apply

Apply online by clicking 'Apply Now' on the right hand side of this page. Keep in mind that you may need to supply supporting documentation and this will be outlined in the online application form. You may need to scan, upload and attach supporting documentation to your application. You can also save your application and finish completing it at a later date. Applications are made directly to the University and assessed by the Faculty of Science.

International students

How to apply

This course is not available to international students. Admission requirements apply only to domestic students.

Important Fee Information

Domestic students

Indicative Postgraduate Domestic Tuition Fee

The tuition fee for a domestic postgraduate student is an indication only of the 2017 fees payable in Year 1 for a standard full time load of 48 credit points (1.0 EFTSL). Depending on the calendar year in which you undertake your study, and if your study load is more or less than the 1.0 EFTSL, your tuition fee will differ from the indicative amount.

Annual review and fee increases

Importantly, tuition fees are subject to annual review by the University, and will increase each year of your period of study, effective at the start of each calendar year.

Additional incidental costs

For some courses there are incidental costs additional to the student contribution and/or course fee. Some of these incidental costs are significant, for example, course-specific materials, tools, protected clothing and equipment. Further information about these costs is available from

Credit card surcharge

Please note that a surcharge of 0.8% will apply for payments made by Visa, MasterCard or American Express. The surcharge is subject to review and may change. Information about payment methods and the surcharge is set out at:

Potential for inaccuracy

Whilst every reasonable effort has been made to include correct and up to date information here, you are also advised to consult directly with the Student Centre so that they can provide you with specific and up to date information about fees.

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