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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Building on the advice given in the start-of-year induction sessions, these meetings will focus on very specific tasks and skills.

Unless otherwise stated, meetings are held online on Teams.

Researching in museums

Friday 9 October 2020, 1–2pm, Teams: Seminar Room 1
Joshua Nall

Why is there a museum inside the HPS Department? And how can you use its collections in your research? Get the answers to these questions, and many more, in this online seminar, led by the Museum's Curator of Modern Sciences, Josh Nall.

The main goal of this session is to show off the diverse array of instruments, models, and ephemera in the Whipple Museum's collection, and to encourage graduate students to consider using material culture in their research. Many former students have produced outstanding essays and dissertations based on the investigation of Museum object/s, and this session will present examples of this past research and discuss how to work successfully with museum collections.

How do undergraduate supervisions work?

Friday 9 October 2020, 3–4pm, Teams: Seminar Room 1
Sachiko Kusukawa and Milena Ivanova

All PhD students and postdocs are encouraged to supervise undergraduate students taking Part IB and Part II HPS courses. If you have never done supervisions before, this workshop is an essential prerequisite. It will explain the relationship between lectures and supervisions, departments/faculties and Colleges, and also cover practical topics such as managing reports and payments through CamCORS.

What is this thing called HPS?

Friday 9 October 2020, 3–5pm, Teams: Seminar Room 2
Helen Curry, Marta Halina and Staffan Müller-Wille

History and philosophy of science and medicine is a large research area spanning centuries, cultures and sciences. In this informal session open to all incoming graduate students, but recommended especially to those who are new to HPS, a panel of historians and philosophers offer a rough guide to a field that can seem overwhelmingly capacious. We introduce the various strands of HPS, suggest some key readings and discuss areas of common ground with other disciplines.

Introduction to scientific collections at the University Library

Thursday 15 October 2020, 11am–12noon, Teams: Seminar Room 1
Katrina Dean

This virtual session will introduce students to the rich scientific collections in the University Library, from iconic manuscripts to new acquisitions covering a wide range of scientific disciplines and historical periods. Whether you are looking for inspiration for your essay or thesis, or a sneak peak at some highlights of Cambridge's scientific heritage, now is your chance. Everyone is welcome but the session is intended primarily for HPS Part III and MPhil students.

How to supervise Part IB and Part II essays

Friday 16 October 2020, 1–2pm, Teams: Seminar Room 2
Sachiko Kusukawa and Milena Ivanova

This is a continuation of the session 'How do undergraduate supervisions work?', but it is also useful for more experienced supervisors. It will provide guidance on effective ways to plan and deliver supervisions, with a particular focus on how to mark and comment on essays, based on real-life examples. There will also be a discussion of the pedagogical functions of supervisions.

How to write an essay in history and philosophy of science

Friday 16 October 2020, 2.30–3.30pm, Teams: Seminar Room 1
Helen Curry, Marta Halina and Staffan Müller-Wille

What is an essay in history and philosophy of science and how does one produce one of high quality? This session – which is strongly recommended for MPhil and Part III students – covers the basics of writing history essays and philosophy essays and the challenges of doing interdisciplinary work.

How to locate resources in history and philosophy of science

Friday 23 October 2020, 1–2pm, Teams: Seminar Room 1
Jack Dixon

Because HPS is such a large and sometimes loosely organised field, it can be challenging to locate the full range of published resources relevant to your work. Jack Dixon will discuss practical strategies for using library resources to quickly and effectively find the resources you need.

How to supervise examinable coursework

Friday 30 October 2020, 1–2pm, Teams: Seminar Room 1
Marta Halina

This session is required for first-time supervisors of examinable coursework (Part III and MPhil papers, and Part II dissertations and primary source essays), and optional for supervisors with previous experience. This workshop will give guidance on helping students choose topics, find and use good sources, plan and carry out research and writing, and manage the constraints of deadlines and word limits. We will also consider strategies for coping with various problem scenarios: how and when to ask for help; questions of confidentiality; and how not to end up doing all the work yourself!

Apply for a PhD!

Friday 6 November 2020, 2.30–3.30pm, Zoom
Nick Hopwood and David Thompson

For those considering doing a PhD, in Cambridge or elsewhere, deadlines will soon be looming. This workshop, run by the Director of Postgraduate Studies, will explain the Department's PhD admissions requirements and processes. More generally, advice will be provided on choosing places to apply to, finding a workable topic and appropriate potential supervisors, securing references, writing a convincing proposal, and applying for funding.

How to turn an essay into a publishable article

Friday 7 May 2021, 1–2pm, Teams: Seminar Room 1
Tim Lewens

It's one thing to please your examiners, but how do you go about impressing journal referees and editors enough to persuade them to publish your work? In this session we will look at the different demands made on examinable work and publishable work, the issue of how to choose a journal, and how to give your work the best possible chance of being accepted.