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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


These pages contain information for students taking the NST Part II course in History and Philosophy of Science.

For an introduction to studying History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge please see our undergraduate study pages.

In this section:

  • About the course
    An overview of the HPS Part II course
  • Primary sources
    Guidelines for the primary source essay
  • Dissertation
    Information for students writing a Part II dissertation
  • Key dates and deadlines
    A list of important dates
  • Examining
    How the course is examined
  • Advice
    Guidance about writing, preparing for exams and other aspects of the course
  • BBS options
    Information for students taking one of the BBS subjects: Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Early Medicine, or Modern Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

HPS Part II course changes for 2020–21

Due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and government guidance, we have had to make some changes to the programme in order to mitigate against risks to health and to give you the best possible academic experience in the circumstances. We will continue to monitor and respond to the changing public health situation.

The changes are:

  • Lectures and seminars
    All lectures and seminars will be delivered online. Some will be delivered live online at the scheduled date and time and recordings will be uploaded to Moodle within 48 hours of the lecture taking place. Others will be recorded in advance and the recording will be available to download from Moodle by the scheduled date and time. See the timetable for details of when lectures and seminars are scheduled to take place as well as the platform and method of delivery.
  • Submitted coursework
    Primary source essays: Students will submit one 5,000-word primary source essay, not two 3,000-word essays. This is a permanent change that has been introduced in response to student feedback to try to balance the workload at the end of Michaelmas Term.
    Dissertation: The word limit for the dissertation has been reduced to 8,000 words. This is a permanent change designed to bring it in line with the dissertation requirements of similar courses.
  • Supervisions
    Supervisions will still be provided, although the format will be variable. Supervisions will normally take place in person in groups of two or three. However, where a student or supervisor is shielding or it is not possible to meet in person e.g. due to local lockdown measures being imposed, supervisions may take place online via Teams, Zoom or Skype.
  • Small group teaching
    Small group teaching such as classes and dissertation seminars will, where possible, take place in person. Information about these will be circulated during the year.
  • Study skills and other activities
    Study skills groups and other activities will take place online or in person depending on demand (groups of 8–10 should be able to take place in person as long as a large enough room is available). Advice of mode of delivery will be circulated prior to the event.
  • Meetings with the course manager
    Dr Stephen John, Part II course manager, will have regular meetings with students to ensure that each student's programme of study is progressing well and to address any concerns at an early point.

Instant feedback

Students are welcome to use our instant feedback form at any time throughout the year to comment on lectures, supervisions and other aspects of teaching.