UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

At UCL, the academic mission is paramount. Our ambition is to achieve the highest standards in our teaching and research.

Join us for BSc, MSc, and PhD study.

Staff books include:

Gregory 2013 Presocratics and the Supernatural spacerAthena Swan Bronze Award

History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science core stream

Science covers everything from the origin of the universe to the innermost workings of our brains. Scientists are consulted by world leaders and law courts, advertisers and athletes. Yet, while science itself tries to understand everything, how do we understand science itself? How secure are the methods of science? When, where and how did science originate as a distinct type of knowledge? What accounts of the extraordinary success and diversity of science in the modern world?


The HPSSS stream examines how science has developed historically, and the foundations on which its principles and methods are based. HPSSS also looks at science in its wider intellectual and cultural contexts, and asks how it is directed and funded by society, and how people get to learn about, and influence the scientific enterprise.

In the HPSSS stream students will examine philosophical questions concerning the methodology of science, the justification of scientific knowledge, the demarcation of science from other systems of thought, and the nature of scientific evidence. Students will also learn about the key periods and episodes in the history of science such as ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the advent of modern science including evolution, relativity and quantum mechanics. They will also acquire a deeper understanding of the practice of science by examining how science is communicated to the public, how government policy affects science, how science is applied to technology, medicine and warfare, and how scientific communities function socially.


Students who complete this stream will learn and understand:

  1. Key issues and methods in the philosophy of science
  2. Main developments in the history of science
  3. Historiography
  4. How science is understood by the public
  5. Practical science communication skills
  6. How government policy affects science
  7. How science affects society
  8. The social dimensions of scientific practice
  9. How to analyse and debate all these issues cogently, both in writing and orally

Programme structure

Year 1 Term 1

This is the foundation course for the HPSS stream.

  • HPSC1010 Science in the Spotlight (link

Year 1 Term 2

Students selecting HPSSS for a major or minor stream should complete two of the following three courses: 

Years 2, 3, and 4

HPSSS streams follow the programme defined for the Natural Sciences programme (link). Students are welcome to discuss their preferences with our stream representative.

Stream documents

HPSSS scheme for students:

  • HPSSS Moodle page (link)

Quick links

  • UCL natural sciences (link)
  • UCL natural sciences current students (link)

Page last modified on 02 mar 13 11:34 by Joe Cain

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)
0207 679 1328 office | +44 207 679 1328 international
sts@ucl.ac.uk | www.ucl.ac.uk/sts | @stsucl
postal address:  Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT | United Kingdom
street address: 22 Gordon Square, London, WC1E 6BT | maps