Science and Technology Studies


STS offers degrees at each university level: undergraduate, masters, and PhD

Prof Emma Tobin

Prof Emma Tobin

Professor of Philosophy of Science

Dept of Science & Technology Studies

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2010

Research summary

Metaphysics of Science:  particularly natural kinds and laws.

Philosophy of Science in Practice: classification in a number of subdisciplines in chemistry, biology and astronomy.

Integrated History and Philosophy of Chemistry

General Philosophy of Science:  general interests in philosophy of science include causation, explanation, scientific realism, modelling, idealisation and approximation. 

Epistemology of Science: inference and explanation and big data in classification.

Teaching summary

Emma has taught at all levels in STS since 2010. Prior to coming to UCL, Emma taught at University of Bristol, Trinity College Dublin and National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

BSc and MSc modules include:

HPSC0005 Philosophy of Science

HPSC0050 Philosophy of Natural Science

HPSC0085 Knowledge Explanation and Classification

PhD Supervision:

I am interested in supervising problems in my research areas. Please get in touch if you would like to explore doing a PhD under my supervision.

PhD Students:

Dr Stephanie Ratcliffe (2014)

Dr Yafeng Shan (2015)

Dr Toby Friend (2017)

Dr Rory Jubber (2020)

Mr Ryan Francis (Current Student) Windsor BAME Fellowship 2019


Emma was born in West Cork Ireland. She joined STS in October 2010 as a Lecturer. In 2016, she was promoted to Associate Professor and in October 2020 was promoted to Professor. At STS, Emma has been the Undergraduate Tutor (2013-2016) and Deputy Head of Department (2018-2019).  Emma is now the co-Head of Department (with Professor Jon Agar) since September 2019. Before coming to UCL, she was a postdoctoral research fellow on the AHRC Metaphysics of Science Project. She joined the Philosophy Department in Bristol in October 2006. After completing her B.A. in University College Dublin, Emma completed a Ph.D. at Trinity College Dublin, funded by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. She was also a visiting student at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge from May–August 2005, where she worked with Professor Peter Lipton. She was awarded her Ph.D. entitled ‘On the Disunity of the Sciences and Ceteris Paribus Laws’ in March 2006, examined by Prof. Stephen Mumford. (Ph.D. Abstract). Emma worked on an AHRC sponsored project on the Metaphysics of Science as a postdoctoral research fellow based in Bristol working with Alexander Bird from 2006-2010. More about the Metaphysics of Science Project

Emma is married and has a daughter and a son.