Undergraduate prospectus

  • Start date: September 2016

History and Philosophy of Science BSc

This BSc, unique in the UK, integrates study of the philosophy and history of science. We investigate science's methods, fundamental concepts, logic, and ethics, and explore its history, from antiquity to the present. We aim to build a critical understanding of science's role in the modern world and prepare you for careers in research.

Key Information

Degree Programme
History and Philosophy of Science BSc
UCAS code
3 years
Application deadline
15 January 2016
Subject area
Science and Technology Studies
Total intake (by subject area)
33 (2016 entry)
Applications per place (by subject area)
4 (2014 entry)
Research Excellence Framework
82%: History subjects; 75%: Philosophy subjects rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Entry requirements

A Levels

No specific subjects.
AS Levels
For UK-based students a pass in a further subject at AS level or equivalent is required.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C. For UK-based students, a grade C or equivalent in a foreign language (other than Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew or Latin) is required. UCL provides opportunities to meet the foreign language requirement following enrolment, further details at: www.ucl.ac.uk/ug-reqs

IB Diploma

A score of 16-17 points in three higher level subjects, with no score lower than 5.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Edexcel Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF), or Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Diploma (NQF) with Distinction, Distinction, Distinction.

Pass in Access to HE Diploma, with between 28 credits awarded with Merit and a minimum of 18 credits awarded with Distinction in the Level 3 units, the remainder of the Level 3 units awarded with Merit.

D3,D3,M1 - D3,M1,M1 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects

AAB-ABB at Advanced Highers (or AA at Advanced Higher and BBB at Higher - AB at Advanced Higher and BBB at Higher)

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Diploma Core with grade B, plus 2 GCE A-levels at grades AA-AB.

International applications

In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

UCL offers intensive one-year foundation courses to prepare international students for a variety of degree programmes at UCL.

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

For more information see our website: UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Degree benefits

  • Explore the history and philosophy of science across the world, from antiquity to the present. This includes following changes as scientific knowledge moves between cultures
  • Investigate how scientific knowledge and methods are intertwined with other elements of society, and how historians and sociologists draw on evidence to piece together an understanding of the past
  • Investigate science as a way of knowing, including its many methods, fundamental concepts, logic, and ethics
  • Use science as a focus for developing expertise in key areas of philosophy, from metaphysics to aesthetics

Degree structure

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual courses, normally valued at 0.5 or 1.0 credits, adding up to a total of 4.0 credits for the year. Courses are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional courses varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 1.0 credit is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

This degree aims to produce graduates ready to use deep historical and philosophical perspectives to interpret science's influence on modern society.

With our focus on key skills, practical methods, and broader perspectives, we also aim to create versatile thinkers ready to engage with emerging issues.

The real strength of the degree is its flexibility and breadth across a wide range of themes in history and philosophy, held together by strong interdisciplinary connections.

Year One

Compulsory courses

History of Modern Science
History of Science: from Antiquity to the Enlightenment
Investigating History and Philosophy of Science
Investigating Science and Society
Philosophy of Science I
Revealing Science
Science Policy
Science Communication and Public Engagement

Optional courses

There are no optional courses in year one.

Year Two

Compulsory courses

Global Citizenship in Action

Optional courses

Students select options from a wide range of courses offered by the department and more widely across UCL, including:

Philosophy of Science II
Policy Issues in the Life Sciences
Science and Empire
Science and Ethics
Science in the Media
Sociology of Science and Technology

Final Year

Compulsory courses


Optional courses

Disease in History
Governing Emerging Technologies
History of Medicine
History of Astronomy and Cosmology
Investigating Contemporary Science
Medical Ethics
Philosophy of Information
Philosophy of Medicine
Philosophy of Natural Science
Science and Film Production
Science in Nineteenth Century London
Science, Art and Philosophy
Science, Politics, and the State in Russia and the Soviet Union
Sleep and Dreaming

Our final-year optional courses vary from year to year to reflect current practice and the latest academic research. Students may also select options from a wide range of courses offered by the department and throughout UCL.

Your learning

The department has a reputation for excellence in the classroom. Tutors have won local and international teaching awards and we consistently rank highly in student evaluations. Our teaching methods adapt to specific needs of students. Many courses include small-group discussions and active participation. The student-to-tutor ratio is approximately 4:1.


Coursework ranges from short position pieces to significant research papers. In addition to essays, we sometimes assess using posters, blogs, and multimedia projects. Practical work includes mock parliamentary reports, radio programmes, presentations, and web projects. Group work sometimes is used, as are unseen examinations.

Further Information

Detailed course descriptions are available on the department website: History and Philosophy of Science BSc.


The programme is designed to allow you both to gain understanding of the discipline, and to develop intellectual, practical and transferable skills, such as critical thinking; retrieving, researching and analysing material, time and project management and working effectively both alone and as part of a team.

In this scientific and technological world, this programme provides an excellent foundation for many careers, especially those at the interface of professional science and the wider culture.

This may include science communication in print or broadcasting, education or museums; and employment in science policy or commercial posts such as in research administration, technology transfer, regulatory agencies or charities. Further study, either within the discipline, or to acquire professional training for example for financial or legal careers, is also popular among our graduates.


First destinations of recent graduates (2010-2013) of this programme include:

  • Full-time student, MSc in Media Production at Imperial College London (2011)
  • Junior Television Research Assistant, Dansk Channel 3 TV Station (2011)
  • Investment Advisor, Best Invest (2010)
  • Full-time student, MSc in Medicine, Science and Society at King's College London (2010)
  • Full-time student, Graduate Diploma in Law, BPP School of Law (2010)

*Data taken from the 'Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education' survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2010-2013 graduating cohorts six months after graduation and, where necessary, department records.

UCL is commited to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers, UCL Advances and other entrepreneur societies here: Careers and skills.

Fees and funding


UK & EU fee
£9,000 (2016/17)
Overseas fee
£17,190 (2016/17)


Details about financial support are available at: www.ucl.ac.uk/study/ug-finance


Scholarships listed below are relevant to the department. Please read the details carefully to check they are relevant to the degree and your own circumstances.

Dean's Summer Student Scholarships

Based on academic merit

The Scholarships and Funding website has a comprehensive list of scholarships and funding schemes available for UCL students. These can be available for specific nationalities, regions, departments or open to all students.

Application and next steps

Your application

Your application will be assessed on your prior and projected academic achievement, and we will be seeking evidence of your interest in historical and contemporary issues in science, technology and medicine. You should also be able to demonstrate your ability to construct a reasoned argument and to participate in debate.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.

Application deadline: 15 January 2016


After assessing your application, we invite applicants in the UK to visit the department for an open day. This includes introductory talks from staff and tours given by current students. The afternoon meetings with academic staff provide an opportunity to discuss your personal interests and aspirations in relation to your chosen degree.

If you live outside the UK, you are not expected to travel to interview, but will be contacted by telephone or email to discuss your application - you are, of course, welcome to visit us if this is possible for you.

For further information on UCL's selection process see: Selection of students