Methods and Themes in the History of Science and Technology

(Convenor: Professor Pietro Corsi)

The course in Methods and Themes in the History of Science and Technology is compulsory for students planning to write a Masters dissertation in this field, and for all Probationer Research Students who do not possess an appropriate Masters degree. It is based on an orientation meeting, nine two-hour classes, and associated discussions of written and other work. It provides an introduction to some of the main traditions in the gathering, manipulation, and application of natural knowledge. Although it involves some study of the medieval and early modern periods, the emphasis is on science in the industrial age and the interactions between science and technological practice. Students are expected to acquire a general knowledge of the main currents in the history of science and technology, but they do so from a perspective informed by intensive reading in the methodologies of relevant areas of historical and social science writing. The aim is to strike a balance between the acquisition of a necessary basic knowledge and an appreciation of the tools and approaches that historians of science and technology have utilised. All those attending the course are required to attend a cycle of eight one-hour lectures entitled 'Introduction to the history of science and technology'. These are predominantly 'empirical' lectures, providing an introduction to some of the main episodes in the history of science and technology for those students (in fact, the great majority) who have no grounding in the subject.