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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.

Researching in museums

Friday 8 October 2021, 1–2pm, Whipple Museum and Zoom
Liba Taub and 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 seminar, led by the Director and Curator of the Whipple Museum, Liba Taub, and 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 8 October 2021, 3–4pm, Teams
Liba Taub and Andrew Buskell

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 8 October 2021, 3–5pm, Teams
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 postgraduate 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.

Using Cambridge archives and manuscripts

Thursday 14 October 2021, 10–11am and 11am–12noon, University Library
Katrina Dean

This 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 peek 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 write an essay in history and philosophy of science

Friday 15 October 2021, 10–11am, Hopkinson Lecture Theatre
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 survive the MPhil and Part III

Friday 15 October 2021, 11am–12noon, Hopkinson Lecture Theatre
Erinn Campbell and Timothy Sim

Led by two alumni, this informal session gives HPSM MPhil and Part III students the chance to discuss strategies and share tips.

How to locate resources in history and philosophy of science

Friday 15 October 2021, 1–2pm, Whipple Library (Old Library)
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 Part IB and Part II essays

Friday 15 October 2021, 1–2pm, Seminar Room 2
Richard Staley and Andrew Buskell

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 supervise examinable coursework

Friday 29 October 2021, 1–2pm, Seminar Room 1
Stephen John

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!

An introduction to data management and Digital Humanities

Wednesday 3 November 2021, 2–3pm, Board Room and Teams (Whipple Library channel)
Jack Dixon and Xinyi Wen

This hour long session will cover the basics of data management, some digital tools to help, and an introduction to the wider Cambridge Digital Humanities landscape.

Apply for a PhD!

Friday 5 November 2021, 2.30–3.30pm, Zoom
Hasok Chang 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 6 May 2022, 1–2pm, 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.

Oral history roundtable

Friday 27 May 2022, 1–2pm, Zoom
Jenny Bangham, Rebecca Charbonneau, Dmitriy Myelnikov