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History of Science, Technology and Medicine MSc

Explore the history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM) through case studies. Interested students from any discipline are welcome on this course. Includes the Medical Humanities award route.

History of Science, Technology and Medicine (including Medical Humanities award route) Course details

Year of entry: 2017

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Course details

Course description

This programme explores the histories of science, technology and medicine (HSTM) through a wide range of case studies, from the emergence of professional scientific disciplines such as physics and biology, to the growth of `Big Science' in the Cold war era, to the complex history of the National Health Service. We focus on the integrated understanding of HSTM through consideration of sites, institutions, and schools of thought and practice, and pay particular attention to how scientists and medics have communicated with non-specialist audiences.

The taught course consists of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Reflecting CHSTM¿s established research strengths, studies focus on nineteenth- and twentieth-century cases. Students will gain experience in historical essay-writing before researching and writing an extensive dissertation on a specialised topic, supervised by experienced researchers.

This MSc is appropriate for students from any disciplinary background. It works both as an advanced study course for students with undergraduate experience in HSTM, and as a conversion route for students from other backgrounds (often in the sciences, but also including general history, social policy, and other fields).

The HSTM pathway is the most appropriate for students who have wide-ranging interests across the field, or are interested in the histories of the physical sciences or the life sciences in particular. If you wish to focus on biomedicine or healthcare, you may prefer the Medical Humanities pathway. If you are particularly interested in contemporary science communication or policy, you should consider the parallel Science Communication MSc programme.


To explore the histories of theories, practices, authority claims, institutions and people, spaces and places, and communication in science, technology and medicine, across their social, cultural and political contexts.

To provide an opportunity and open access to study particular topics of historical and contemporary significance in depth encourage and support the development of analytical skills in understanding the changing form and function of science, technology and medicine in society.

To encourage and support the development of transferable writing and presentational skills of the highest standard, and thereby prepare students for further academic study or employment.

To provide a comprehensive introduction to research methods in the history of science, technology and medicine, including work with libraries, archives, databases, and oral history.

To enable students to produce a major piece of original research and writing in the form of a dissertation.

Special features

Students register for a common programme, but may specialise into one of our named awards according to the choice of Semester 2 taught options and dissertation topics. There are two award pathways:

Additional course information

Teaching and learning

Teaching includes a mixture of lectures and small-group seminar discussions built around readings and other materials. We emphasise the use both of primary sources, and of current research in the field. Most students will also visit local museums and other sites of interest to work on objects or archives. All students meet regularly with a mentor from the Centre's PhD community, a designated personal tutor from among the staff, and, from Semester 2, a dissertation supervisor.  Progression is developed through the Faculty's online-delivery Electronic Graduate Training Programme. 

Coursework and assessment

Assessment is mostly based on traditional essay-format coursework submission. The HSTM pathway includes one examination based on a precirculated paper. All MSc students undertake a research dissertation (or optionally, for Medical Humanities students, a portfolio of creative work) counting for 60 of the 180 credits.

Course unit details

You are required to complete 180 credits in the following course units to be awarded this MSc:

Semester 1 course units (credits)

  • Major themes in HSTM  (30 credits)
  • Theory and practice in HSTM and Medical Humanities (15)
  • Research and communication skills (15)

Semester 2: two  optional course units  (30 credits each) from the below list, or one from the below plus 30 credits of course units from an affiliated programme:


  • Dissertation in the history of science, technology and/or medicine (60)

Course structure (part-time)

Part-time students study alongside full-timers, taking half the same content each semester over two years.

You are required to complete 180 credits in the following course units to be awarded this MSc:

Semester 1:  Major themes in HSTM  (30 credits).

Semester 2: one optional course unit (30 credits each) from

Semester 3:

  • Theory and practice in HSTM and Medical Humanities (15)
  • Research and communication skills (15)

Semester 4: one further  optional course unit  (30) from CHSTM as seen above, or 30 credits of course units from an approved affiliated programme.


  • Dissertation in HSTM (60 credits) across second year and during the summer

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Major Themes in HSTMHSTM6051130Mandatory
Communicating ideas in STMHSTM6057115Mandatory
Dissertation in HSTM, Science Communication studies or Medical HumanitiesHSTM6063260Mandatory
Historiography of STMHSTM6065115Mandatory
Medicine, Science and ModernityHSTM6016230Optional
Shaping the SciencesHSTM6026230Optional
Making Modern TechnologyHSTM6027230Optional

Scholarships and bursaries

Several sources of funding are available. For current possibilities, please see the MSc Funding page on the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine website. Please note that funding application deadlines are usually earlier than the application deadline for the programme overall.

What our students say

'The Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) is renowned for the quality of its teaching, as well as the research that takes place there, so I didn't hesitate to accept their offer of study. Manchester also has the largest student population in the country, and as a result is a popular recruiting ground for graduate employers. Thus, I thought it would further increase my chances of obtaining a graduate job by studying here.'

Jonathan Livingston


All MSc students have use of a shared office in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, including networked computer terminals and storage space, and use of the dedicated subject library housed in the PhD office nearby. The Centre is located within a few minutes' walk of the University of Manchester Library, the largest non-deposit library in the UK. 

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: