Skip to main content

History and Philosophy of Science

Major

The major in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) investigates the nature of science, how science has developed, and how it has come to occupy such an central position in today's society. HPS is an exciting area of study in which you will be stimulated to think critically and creatively about developments within science and their impact on society. It places science in its historical and social contexts and examines how science differs from other forms of knowledge. In this major you will study the ethical issues associated with recent developments in science such as stem cell research, cloning, and animal experimentation. You will also look at the major issues in the history and philosophy of science by examining the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, and you also have the opportunity to take specific studies in topics such as the history and philosophy of the biomedical sciences and the history and philosophy of the physical sciences. For more information on the program structure and content, view the Science Undergraduate Handbook.

About this major

FIRST YEAR
To prepare for a major in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) it is recommended that you take 6 credit points of junior units in HPS and 12 credit points of elective units of study from history, philosophy, gender studies, physics, psychology, or other related areas of study in arts or science in consultation with the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science. It is a good idea to plan ahead and have an idea of which senior units you need to complete, so that you can plan your junior and intermediate prerequisite units accordingly.

SECOND YEAR
In second year, you will take intermediate HPS units which are the prerequisites for your senior HPS units.

THIRD YEAR
To successfully complete your HPS major you must take at least 24 credit points of senior HPS units of study.

EXAMPLE UNITS
Bioethics
The Birth of Modern Science
What is this Thing Called Science?
History and Philosophy of the Biomedical Sciences
The Scientific Revolution
History and Philosophy of Psychology and Psychiatry

Graduate opportunities

HPS is a valuable field of study for any career requiring a broad and critical appreciation of science and its position in society. It is particularly relevant for careers in science administration, science policy, science education, science communication, science journalism, exhibition design and museum work. Many careers in government and business require a broad and critical appreciation of science and its place in the modern world. History and philosophy of science provides an ideal training for positions of this kind. Students majoring in one of the sciences or medicine benefit from taking courses in HPS because it provides a deeper understanding of the nature of scientific research and its social and ethical implications. It allows students to take a step back and reflect on the nature of science and its place in society.
Career pathways
Courses that offer this major

The course information on this website applies only to future students. Current students should refer to faculty handbooks for current or past course information.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.