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Part III and MPhil

Part III students' guide

MPhil student's guide

Part III Manager: Helen Curry
MPhil Managers: Marta Halina and Staffan Müller-Wille

Part III and MPhil Lectures 2020–21

The Department's Part III and HPSM MPhil students must attend these lectures, which are held on Wednesdays at 3pm. They are not open to anyone else.

The purpose of the lectures is to introduce research topics, methods and approaches adopted by the Department's teaching officers. Normally the lecture will last for 45 minutes with another 45 minutes left for questions and answers, although the precise format may depend on the session. Following (or in some cases preceding) each session the lecturer will canvass interest and announce the schedule for a small group seminar that explores the topics of the corresponding lecture in more depth. All MPhil and Part III students should attend each lecture, but they can choose which subsequent seminars to follow. Each student must follow at least one seminar in Michaelmas and one in Lent.

Michaelmas Term

Week 1 (14 October)
Tim Lewens and Stephen John: Is, can or should science be 'value-free'?

Week 2 (21 October)
Nick Hopwood: Icons of knowledge

Week 3 (28 October)
Simon Schaffer and Josh Nall: Instruments and empires

Week 4 (4 November)
Anna Alexandrova: Evidence-based policy and its discontents

Week 5 (11 November)
Lauren Kassell: Medical records and digital humanities

Week 6 (18 November)
Hasok Chang: Realism, relativism and pluralism

  • Chang, Hasok, 'Relativism, Perspectivism and Pluralism', in Martin Kusch (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Relativism (London and New York: Routledge, 2020), pp. 398–406
  • Chang, Hasok, 'Pragmatism, Perspectivism, and the Historicity of Science', in Michela Massimi and Casey D. McCoy (eds), Understanding Perspectivism: Scientific Challenges and Methodological Prospects (New York and London: Routledge, 2019), pp. 10–27

Week 7 (25 November)
Staffan Müller-Wille: Natural history as a global science

Week 8 (2 December)
Sam Robinson: Science fact and fiction: histories of socio-technical futures

  • Jasanoff, Sheila, and Sang-Hyun Kim, 'Containing the Atom: Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Nuclear Regulation in the United States and South Korea', Minerva 47 (2009), 119–146
  • Rees, Amanda, and Iwan Rhys Morus, 'Introduction: Presenting Futures Past: Science Fiction and the History of Science', Osiris 34 (2019), 1–15. See whole issue for more: 'Presenting Futures Past'

Lent Term

Week 1 (20 January)
Jacob Stegenga: The sciences of sexual desire

Week 2 (27 January)
Mary Brazelton: Decolonization and the history of science

  • Kumar, Prakash, Projit Bihari Mukharji and Amit Prasad, 'Decolonizing Science in Asia', Verge: Studies in Global Asias 4 (2018), 24–43
  • Deb Roy, Rohan, 'Decolonise Science: Time to End Another Imperial Era', The Conversation (April 2018)
  • Zhang, Butian, 'Translating History of Science Books into Chinese: Why? Which Ones? How?', Isis 109 (2018), 782–788
  • Wu, Shellen Xiao, 'Geography and the Reshaping of the Modern Chinese Empire', in Jeremy Adelman (ed.), Empire and the Social Sciences: Global Histories of Knowledge (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), pp. 63–78

Week 3 (3 February)
Marta Halina: Genesis and development of a scientific fact

  • Fleck, Ludwik, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, F. Bradley and T. Trenn, trans (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979 [1935]), prologue and pp. 1–51

Week 4 (10 February)
Helen Curry: Histories of extinction

  • Qureshi, Sadiah, 'Dying Americans: Race, Extinction and Conservation in the New World', in A. Swenson and P. Mandler (eds), From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire, c. 1800–1940, Proceedings of the British Academy 187 (2013), 267–286
  • Sepkoski, David, 'Extinction, Diversity and Endangerment', in F. Vidal and N. Dias (eds), Endangerment, Biodiversity and Culture (London: Routledge, 2015), pp. 62–86
  • TallBear, Kim, 'Genomic Articulations of Indigeneity', Social Studies of Science 43 (2013), 509–533

Week 5 (17 February)
Matt Farr: The direction of time

  • Price, Huw, and Brad Weslake, 'The Time-Asymmetry of Causation', in Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock and Peter Menzies (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Causation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 414–443

Week 6 (24 February)
Salim Al-Gailani: Covid-19 and the history of medicine

Week 7 (3 March) and Week 8 (10 March)
Dissertation information sessions

The MPhil and Part III dissertation is a substantial piece of work that must represent a contribution to learning and show evidence of independent research. Two consecutive sessions, one for history and one for philosophy, offer general advice on how to organise your research and writing over the coming weeks. Seminar leaders will provide subject specific guidance about the different disciplinary styles you might use, and ask what makes a successful dissertation.

Easter Term

Weeks 1–4
Dissertation seminars

During the first four weeks of Easter Term we will hold Dissertation Seminars in which you each will give short presentations on your dissertation research to your fellow masters students. A schedule of these seminars, which consist of themed panels based on your submitted dissertation topics, will be circulated towards the end of Lent Term.