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School of History and Philosophy of Science

Placing science in its historical and social context
At the crossroads of arts and science, we examine past and current developments in all areas of science, technology and medicine from a range of humanistic perspectives.

History and philosophy of science (HPS) is an ideal way to critically engage with science and its social and cultural significance. Any student with a genuine interest in science will derive benefit from the study of this discipline.

Teaching at the School of History and Philosophy of Science

Teaching staff in the School of History and Philosophy of Science have published widely in their fields of expertise and have gained international recognition for their research. This makes them fantastic educators, sharing their knowledge and experiences in the classroom so students can be at the forefront of innovations in the field.

The University of Sydney is ranked first in Australia and fifth in the world for graduate employability.* This stems from our immersive, research-led teaching which prepares students for the real-world and a successful career.

*QS Graduate Employability Rankings, 2019.

News bites

Congratulations to Hans Pols now a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW. Hans will present a public lecture " Physicians as Public Intellectuals: Indonesian Physicians in the Dutch East Indies" September 4th 2019. Details Here 

Assistant Professor Sara Langston

Asst. Professor, Spaceflight Operations, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

University of Sydney, Ph.D History and Philosophy of Science; Awarded the Science Faculty Postgraduate Research Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement.

As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of the historic Moon landing with a live TV broadcast and events, there is a focus on recognizing the contributions of the thousands of men and women who made the Apollo 11 mission possible. This year is particularly significant for the legacy of the Apollo program because of the president’s Space Policy Directive 1, which tasks NASA with returning to the Moon by 2024. This time, the mandate requires establishing a permanent lunar base and advancing space exploration to Mars and across the solar system. Read More

Professor Johannes Pols;with Professor Catharine Coleborne; Associate Professor Paul Rhodes; and Professor Anthony Harris

The development of Australian community psychiatry. 

HPS Research Seminar Series 2019 - Most Mondays from 5.30pm Level 5 Function Room, Administration Building (F23)

Professor Carrie Figdor

The University of Iowa 

“From the rational soul to human cognitive uniqueness: Psychology’s ambiguous response to evolution”

Psychology began as the part of philosophy concerning the soul. Scientific psychology is still struggling to abandon this historical legacy. I will explain the multiple ways in which psychology remains unjustifiably anthropocentric. I will also review and defend the empirical developments bringing about a scientific psychology that is fully consistent with basic evolutionary principles

When: Monday 2nd September 2019 From 5.30pm

Level 5 Function Room,

Administration Building (F23)


Professor Giora Hon

University of Haifa 

James Clerk Maxwell’s Methodological Odyssey in Electromagnetism: A Philosophical Perspective  

  Einstein (1931): “The greatest alteration in the axiomatic basis of physics—in our conception of the structure of reality—since the foundation of theoretical physics by Newton, originated in the researches of Faraday and Maxwell on electromagnetic phenomena.... Since Maxwell’s time Physical Reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, governed by partial differential equations, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of Reality is the most profound and fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.” We ask, then, What was Maxwell’s key to this fundamental change in the conception of Physical Reality? By following closely the trajectory of Maxwell’s several contributions to electromagnetism, which we characterize as an odyssey, we uncover one fundamental aspect of this success—innovative methodologies.   

When: Monday 9th September 2019

From 5.30pm

Level 5 Function Room,

Administration Building (F23)

Dr Joel Katzav

University of Queensland

Issues in the theoretical foundations of climate science – Joel Katzav and Wendy S. Parker

The theoretical foundations of climate science have received little attention from philosophers thus far, despite the relevance of work on these foundations to representing our uncertainty about climate and despite a number of outstanding issues. We provide a brief, non-technical overview of several of these issues – related to theorizing about climates, climate change, internal variability and more – and attempt to make preliminary progress in addressing some of them. In doing so, we hope to open a new thread of discussion in the emerging area of philosophy of climate science, focused on theoretical foundations.

Monday16th September 2019

From 5.30pm

Level 5 Function Room,
Administration Building (F23)

Dr Maria Avxentevskaya

Max Planck Institute - Berlin

Monday 23rd September

From 5.30pm

Level 5 Function Room,
Administration Building (F23)

Dr Peter Takacs

University of Sydney - Charles Perkins Centre

University of Florida


Monday28th October 2019

From 5.30pm

Level 5 Function Room,
Administration Building (F23)

Head of School

Professor Hans Pols
View academic profile

School of History and Philosophy of Science

  • Room 389 Carslaw F07

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