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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Part IB

Natural Sciences Tripos (NST): We welcome everyone who wants to take HPS Part IB. At the present time there is no upper limit; total numbers taking the course range from 65 to 100. NST students take both HPS Part IB papers – History of Science and Philosophy of Science.

Philosophy Tripos: Epistemology and Metaphysics of Science (Paper 5 of the HPS Part II course) is available as an optional paper in Part IB Philosophy.

Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos (PBS) and Human, Social and Political Sciences Tripos (HSPS): Students are able to take one of the two HPS Part IB papers as part of their Part IB/IIA course: History of Science (HPS1) or Philosophy of Science (HPS2).

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Part II


NST and other triposes: There is a quota of 40, and admission can be competitive. A Part II allocations meeting takes place in late June every year. Most of the places are filled at this point and to ensure a place students need to make their choices known on CamSIS.

Our policy is to try to offer a Part II place to everyone who has taken HPS Part IB. A 2:1 is normally expected from other students. Tripos switchers who are underperforming are not admitted unless there is strong evidence that they will perform well in HPS. No place should be assumed without checking first.

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BBS options

Students taking NST Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences can choose History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine (HPSM) as their Major Subject. Alternatively, BBS students can choose one of three HPS papers as their Minor Subject: Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine, Early Medicine, or Modern Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

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Single-paper options

Some HPS papers are available as single-paper options in other triposes:

  • Classical Tripos Part II: Early History of Science, Medicine and Technology (Paper 1 in HPS Part II)
  • History Tripos Part II: Early Medicine (also offered as a BBS paper)
  • HSPS Part IIB: Epistemology and Metaphysics of Science (Paper 5 in HPS Part II) or Ethics and Politics of Science, Technology and Medicine (Paper 6 in HPS Part II)
  • PBS Part II: Philosophy and Scientific Practice (Paper 4 in HPS Part II)

Students taking NST Part II Physical Sciences can choose HPS Part IB as their Group B subject.

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Part III

NST and other triposes: There is a quota of 12, and admission is competitive. Students must make an application to the Department by mid-March, and we make preliminary offers by the end of Easter Term. It is not necessary to have taken HPS Part II: we have had students from a variety of triposes, including English and History as well as NST.

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MPhil and PhD

All applicants must complete the online application form. The Director of Studies is expected to advise on potential areas of expertise, to support the student in identifying sources of financial support and, where opportunities arise, to liaise between the College and the Department to put together a viable funding package.

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