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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

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

The development of Australian community psychiatry. This project aims to analyse recent developments in Australian psychiatry by considering their broader social, cultural, and political contexts. In the 1970s, Australian psychiatry, primarily based in mental hospital care, came under sustained critique by psychologists, psychiatrists interested in developing alternative treatment methods, and broader social movements. This project will investigate how psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals aimed to change mental hospital care and develop community psychiatry to provide alternatives. The project will examine the initiatives of the pioneers in Australian community psychiatry and its relationship to the broader deinstitutionalisation movement. The project will also analyse the resulting changes in research and practice.

Congratulations to our own Honorary Professor Evelleen Richards on being awarded the Suzanne J. Levinson Prize for her book Darwin and the Making of Sexual Selection.

The prize is awarded every years to the best book in the area of history of life sciences and natural history by the History of Science Society. Read more about the prize win here.

HPS Research Seminar Series 2019

Associate Professor David Bronstein
Monday 20 May
Level 5 Function Room,
Administration Building (F23)

The Structure of Scientific Explanation in Aristotle

I first argue that in the Posterior Analytics Aristotle is committed to a theory of essence-based scientific explanation. On my reading, in the ‘highest’ demonstrations in a science, in which both syllogistic premises are indemonstrable first principles, some natural kind K is shown to have some property P because of some item shared by the essence of K and the essence of P. I argue that this interpretation solves a number of problems in the interpretation of Aristotle’s theory. I then argue that in the Parts of Animals Aristotle puts into practice something interestingly similar to this form of explanation in his biological explanations of animal parts. If my account is correct, then the fit between Aristotle’s theory and practice of scientific explanation is even tighter than recent commentators have recognized


Deborah Doroshow, MD, PhD

Fellow in Hematology/Oncology
Yale University School of Medicine

Monday 27 May
Level 5 Function Room,
Administration Building (F23)


Research Day Monday 3 June

Sancta Sophia College Common Room

Keynote: Michael Hunter-Birbeck 'Astrological Experiments Exemplified: Samuel Jeake (1652-99) and the Problem of Astrological Reform in the late 17th Century'

12pm start - light lunch served

1pm presentations commence

3pm Afternoon tea

3.30pm Presentations recommence

5.30 end of presentations and Refreshments



Head of School

Professor Hans Pols
View academic profile

School of History and Philosophy of Science

  • Room 389 Carslaw F07