UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Department history


In 1921 University College London established the first university department in Britain in the field of history and philosophy of science. The Department has offered graduate degrees since then, and many leading scholars in this field began their careers with degrees from UCL. In 1993 an undergraduate BSc programme was launched, with an expanded staff that also included scholars in science communication and science policy. 

The department received its current name in 1994. It had been the "Department of History and Philosophy of Science" from 1938 to 1994, and previously was the "Department of History and Method of Science" from 1921 to 1938. To reflect the widening interdisciplinary nature of our work, the name of the department was changed in 1994 to the Department of Science & Technology Studies (STS). 

STS is unique in the UK in combining – in one department - teaching and research in history and philosophy of science with social studies of science (including science policy, public understanding of science and science communication). 

In 1924 the Department launched its first Masters degree. In 1987 postgraduate teaching in our department was merged with similar activities at Imperial College London and the then Wellcome Institute to create the London Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology. At its inception, this was the only such programme in the UK. A decade later, staff were boasting, "we lead the field in feeding outstanding students into PhD programmes and research careers."

Wikipedia article for the department.

Who are "emeritus" academics?

STS has a long history. Some of our academic staff have retired. When long serving senior staff leave UCL, it's customary to recognise their contributions with an "emeritus" appointment. Staff with the rank of "professor" or "reader" can carry an "emeritus" appointment. STS also has Honorary Senior Lecturers, who also gave notable service to the department and who held the rank of "Senior Lecturer" when employed.

STS emeritus and honorary appointments include: 

  • Honorary Senior Lecturer Dr Karen Bultitude
  • Emeritus Professor Hasok Chang
  • Emeritus Professor Donald Gillies
  • Emeritus Reader Nicholas Maxwell
  • Emeritus Professor Arthur I. Miller
  • Emeritus Professor Steve Miller
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer Dr Carole Reeves

Who was Alice Farrands?

Alice was a PhD student in STS who died of cancer in 2007. She was nearing completion of her PhD about policy making in the regulation of stem cell research. A prominent feature of this research was a large series of interviews with science policy makers, legislators, and scientists. A related project was her POSTnote on ethical scrutiny of research (link or pdf). Alice taught in the department, and she worked on several research projects with staff. She's sorely missed. In her memory, we've dedicated the graduate students' room as the "Alice Farrands Room".