Cain, Joe

Head of Department, and
Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology

Prof Cain's research interests include the history of evolutionary studies, Darwin and Darwinism, history of science in London, history of natural history and natural history films.
Publications via UCL's IRIS service (link)

0207 679 3041 (UK)
+442076793041 (intl)
Twitter: @profjoecain

UCL location (map)

Term 2 office hours: Tuesdays 2-3, Thursdays 3-4 and by appointment

Follow me on

HPSC3027 logo

HPSC3027 Evolution in Science and Culture

This page provides basic information about the module HPSC3027.

2013-14 information

Term 1

  • 2013-14 UCL common timetable information for this module (link)
  • 2012-13 syllabus (link) - syllabus for 2012-13 - the session just past - indicative of the activities in the module
  • HPSC3027 Moodle page (link)

This module will be taught by Professor Joe Cain.

course description

A historical survey of evolutionary thinking from the Enlightenment to the present. We start with Darwin, of course. What did he really say, and why? How were those ideas received at the time? We compare Darwin with those who came before and after. This course combines a study of evolutionary theory with an exploration of evolution’s influence within wider culture: from political theory to eugenics, from questions involving science and religion to pop culture. No prerequisites. Students in other departments very welcome.

one 3,000 word essay (50%)
one 3-hour exam (50%)

course promotion


required texts for the course

No textbook is set; required readings are set throughout the course


No prerequisites, any department, students should be 3rd year standing, but 2nd year students are allowed on the module if prepared. 

Students outside STS are welcome.

other information

This course connects naturally with:

HPSC2018 History of Life Sciences
HPSC other courses in STS

student comments from 2012-13

These comments are from the course evaluations written by students at the end of the Term. These are anonymous. The numerical feedback is here.

Teaching was v. engaging, best module I took this year.

Lectures very enjoyable and entertaining.

Excellent course, I loved the subject. Thanks to Joe for making an interesting subject even more interesting.

Truly excellent module, well organised, fantastic teaching & provision of resources would highly recommend.

Often running out of time and so not finishing the lecture material properly. Excellent course otherwise and Joe Cain/ Tom Quick extremely helpful & accommodating.

The essay word limit was probably the issue I had the most problem with. Otherwise extremely happy with it and of course

Joe was great as usual.

Enjoyable, exciting module taught by an enthusiastic lecturer.

Joe is great.

Very well structured course - great resources on moodle. Very engaging lecturer. Perhaps options for discussion at the end would be good but often there was no time for this.

Great course. Very engaging material and portrayed in a very passionate and engaging way.

Course is perfect the way it is! Maybe increase the word limit of essay to 4/5000 words.

Some of the essay questions were not obviously connected to the course readings which is a shame as I found many of them to be very interesting. Other than that I enjoyed learning many of the themes of the course.

Enjoyed the course. Workload felt appropriate and lectures engaging.

Thoroughly engaging and very interesting - real interest in subject.

Page last modified on 08 sep 13 08:28 by Joe Cain

Professor Joe Cain
UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies