Contemporary Approaches in HPS

Subject HPSC40016 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1 x 2-hour seminar each week for 12 weeks
Total Time Commitment:

approximately 10 hours each week.


Admission to fourth year Honours or the Postgraduate Diploma in the discipline of History and the Philosophy of Science



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:

Subject Overview:

This subject will introduce students to a range of contemporary approaches in HPS, which attempt to understand science from both a historical and philosophical perspective. Students will explore a different case study each week, with the aim of developing a deeper understanding of the epistemological, conceptual, technological, sociological and cultural dimensions of scientific change. We will look at historical case studies such as: the shift from medieval to early modern conceptions of space; the invention of the concept of temperature; the changing conceptions of the electron in the early 20th century; the emergence of a new cultural and biological understanding of heredity in the 19th century; the shift away traditional medical epistemologies and the rise of the clinical hospital; the formation of the psychiatric style of reasoning; the discursive transformation of molecular biology after the Second World War; and the importance of the development of the particle detector and the electron microscope for physics and biology in the 20th century. The case studies will bring to light the different ways in which a philosophical understanding of science can be integrated with intellectual, social and cultural history. The subject will be seminar based, with an emphasis on high-level critical skills.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • Possess a critical understanding of the major themes in HPS
  • Be able to present an informed critical opinion on the major thinkers in HPS

2 Seminar Presentations, equivalent to 2000 words (40%) to be completed during the semester, and a Research Essay of 3000 words (60%), due during the end of semester examination period.

Hurdle Requirements: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to pass this subject. Regular participation in class is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 2% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

To be advised

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • develop skills in written communication.
  • conduct independent research.
  • make appropriate use of primary and secondary sources in mounting an argument.
  • develop skills in synthesizing and analysing literature relevant to a specific discipline or topic
  • form defensible judgements based on a critical evaluation of conflicting arguments
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): M.A.History & Philosophy of Science (Advanced Seminars & Shorter Thesis)
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science

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