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:

Cain 2009 Descended from Darwin spacerAthena Swan Bronze Award

HPSC3004 project ideas

This page provides project ideas for HPSC3004 offered by tutors in STS. Some ideas here are specific and focused on staff research interests. Others are offered to prompt further discussion.

define a research project

The first step in this module is to construct a research plan (details), which includes an proposal for project and securing a supervisor. This should be done long before the start of the academic session, ideally before the end of Term 3 in Year 2.

Supervisors have a certain number of students they can supervise, so it's best to move quickly to secure the one you think most helpful.

project ideas from tutors

Agar, Jon - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. historical/sociological case studies in 20th century science and technology
  2. science policy: contemporary and past decision-making about science, including science funding, big science projects, and governance

Ambrosio, Chiara - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. 20th Century Visual History and its philosophical implications 
  2. American Pragmatism and its contemporary revival in Philosophy of Science 
  3. Models and Representations 
  4. Scientific pluralism, tackled through historical case-studies 
  5. Scientific Discovery Projects that focus on an Integrated History and Philosophy of Science approach are particularly welcome.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss your ideas.

Balmer, Brian - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. areas related to science policy and sociology of science; these can have a contemporary or historical focus. Keep your eyes on the newspapers for controversies around emerging areas of science and technology, as these can often be good case studies.
  2. contemporary issues or history of chemical and biological warfare are welcome
  3. the debate about animal-human hybrids for stem cell research (see any news items from the week 3-7th Sept 2007).
  4. planning for the end of the world (historical or contemporary case studies of planning for nuclear war, terrorism, and other nice things) - this would focus on the role of experts and ask more theoretical questions about the nature of expertise.
  5. science, technology and leisure - including sports technology, music technology etc e.g. gender and drug testing in sport (see the journal Social Studies of Science 2007 Vol.37 No.2 for two articles about sports technologies)

Bultitude, Karen - 3004 Project Ideas 

  1. Investigating the role of digital media in science.  Projects under this theme could explore the usage of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc.) within a particular scientific domain, or evaluate a specific project or activity (for example the Bright Club podcasts or the RI Channel).
  2. Practical evaluation of the impact(s) of a science communication activity or project.  This could include for example conducting surveys, interviews, event observations and/or media analyses.  There are plenty of interesting potential areas to focus on (e.g. Roger Kneebone's 'simulated theatre' public engagement activities, or a Science Museum 'Lates' event), and I'm very happy to discuss further what might be appropriate – it's a great way to make connections and demonstrate wider practical skills for future employability.
  3. How have the Royal Institution's Christmas Lectures developed over time?  The idea is to systematically review a selection of existing video footage from the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures to investigate what changes have occurred in their delivery over time.  The focus is flexible but should relate in some way to science communication perspectives – e.g. the language used, style and tone employed, ratio of demonstrations to explanations, portrayal of scientists, representation of minorities etc. etc.

You are strongly encouraged to come and chat to me in person if any of the above appeal – it's the best way to find out directly whether this is the right project for you.

Cain, Joe - 3004 Project Ideas

history and philosophy of life sciences, evolution, Darwinism

Historical topics

  • How was the rise of Lysenko in Soviet genetics as monitored in the UK, both in the public and professional literature? What did scientists in this country do about it?
  • Explore the visual rhetoric of the eugenics debate in the 1910s, 1920s or 1930s, comparing across nations or political groups.
  • The population genetics of JBS Haldane.
  • The aquarium work of Philip Henry Gosse.
  • Investigate the origin and operation of a scientific society or journal or conference, its place in the community, its ideology and agenda.
  • Investigate the activity of any biologist, zoologist, or botanist who worked at UCL during part of their career. Possible choices include: Sir Peter Medawar, JBS Haldane, Karl Pearson, and E. Ray Lankester, among many others.
  • Natural history and empire. Use of imperial networks by biologists and natural historians: collecting, information exchange, resources. Good example in Browne'sVoyaging about Darwin tapping into that network. Investigate other specific cases, such as those sponsored by Sir Joseph Banks. Is there such a thing as "colonial biology"? Explore post-colonial historiography and implications for center-periphery models of information flow.

Policy topics

  • Politics of extinction
  • Examine debates about the Galapagos Islands between the preservationists and those interested in the commercial development of the island's resources
  • What will natural history museums be doing by the end of the 21st century? 

Clarke, Brendan - 3004 project ideas

For details on the kind of projects Brendan is interested in supervising please visit his website.

Gregory, Andrew - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. The relation of science and religion, especially (though not exclusively) in the seventeenth century
  2. The relation of magic and science (astrology, alchemy)
  3. Chinese and Islamic science up to 1600
  4. Ancient and early modern medicine, up to William Harvey
  5. Any aspect of ancient Greek science, though especially astronomy, cosmology or cosmogony.

Illari, Phyllis - 3004 Project Ideas

Dr Illari is on research leave during 2012-13 and will not be available for supervising dissertations.

Lock, Simon - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. public understanding of science

MacLehose, Bill - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. intercultural interactions, especially in Medieval and Early Modern periods
  2. history of sleep studies
  3. changing conceptions on infancy, adolescence, and adulthood prior to the Englightment
  4. history of medicine

Miller, Steve - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. Media coverage of astronomy.
  2. How does astronomy fit into the "dialogue and debate" agenda?
  3. What is the European dimension to science communication?
  4. Are scientists prepared for the "dialogue and debate" agenda?
  5. Other science communication topics in the physical sciences

Reeves, Carole - 3004 project ideas

Stilgoe, Jack - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. ideas to come

Tobin, Emma - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. philosophy of chemistry
  2. philosophy of science

Werrett, Simon - 3004 Project Ideas

  1. ideas to come

Page last modified on 29 aug 12 07:50 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