Our MPhil provides students with an unparalleled opportunity to explore topics across history and philosophy of science and medicine, laying deep foundations for further study, work and public involvement.
Coming to Cambridge from all over the world and with very diverse backgrounds, students discover our Department to cover the depth and breadth of this large research area spanning centuries, cultures and sciences. They get to work closely with leading academics in the Department and the University at large. The sheer number and diversity of potential supervisors means that students can find experts on most areas of history and philosophy of science and medicine. These experts then work with each student individually, guiding them in honing their research topics, finding the right literature to engage, formulating an argument, and perfecting their writing.
There is a great deal of flexibility about the topics of the essays and the dissertation. This room for independent growth in different directions regularly gathers praise from our students and distinguishes our programme from those at other universities. There are no courses or modules to complete, all assessment is based on submitted writing. Some students come with a specific list of topics and work on them throughout the year, others adjust or completely change their plans. Some specialise right away in either history (of a period or of a science), or philosophy. Others mix and match, trying out different skills in each piece of submitted work. Many of our students research objects in the Whipple Museum of History of Science, making discoveries and publishing their work afterwards.
Whatever their path, students interact with members of the Department – academics, PhD students, postdocs, visitors – in an intense and packed schedule of talks, lectures, seminars, reading groups and supervisions. In these interactions students get a great deal of feedback on their writing and acquire a broad set of skills for how to be an academic researcher, writer and colleague. The 15,000-word dissertation is the culmination of the year. It allows students to explore a topic in depth and to build an extended argument. This piece of work, closely and thoroughly guided by a specially appointed and supremely qualified supervisor, often becomes the basis of a PhD thesis or academic article. By the end of their time in our programme, students have a good idea about their own future interests and the best way to realise their individual talents and newly acquired skills either within our field or outside it.
If you are currently a Cambridge undergraduate student you may want to apply to take the HPS Part III course rather than the MPhil. However, you can apply for the MPhil if you prefer, or you can apply for both and decide later which course to take.