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Welcome

Welcome to the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Overview

There has been a long and distinguished record of activitiy in the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine (STM) at the University of Aberdeen, with past staff including prominent historians of medicine (Andrew Wear, David Smith), chemistry (Nick Fisher), the medieval period (George Molland) and early modern natural philosophy (Jim Bennett, Mario Biagioli, Catherine Wilson). In 2008 the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy established and funded a Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, directed by Ben Marsden, David Smith and Ralph O'Connor.

The Centre for History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine was established and funded by the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2010. With an expanded remit, it now acts as the focus for research, teaching and engagement in the history, philosophy and ethics, literature and museology of science, technology and medicine. Staff are housed within History, Philosophy, English and other departments and units, including Anthropology, the Marischal Museum, Physics and Computing.  

Research and teaching strengths are currently located in the following areas:

  • Literature, medicine, and science
  • Science, religion and philosophy since 1650
  • History of medicine since Antiquity; medicine in literature and film since the 18th century
  • Philosophy of physics; history and philosophy of quantum mechanics
  • History and philosophy of the life sciences; current issues in philosophy of biology
  • History and philosophy of technology 
  • Science, technology and literature
  • Science and popular culture since 1800
  • Material culture of science and museology

We welcome inquiries from prospective researchers and students on these and related topics. Staff associated with the Centre have wide relevant research interests. We offer graduate students the opportunity to study for the MLitt in History and Philosophy of Science, and for the PhD in either History or Philosophy with an interdisciplinary focus. Philosophy offers, in addition, the MRes degree, which could be taken with an interdisciplinary focus.

CHPSTM works in close association with other research centres in the University, including the Centre for Medical Humanities, and the city of Aberdeen, including the Aberdeen Maritime Museum.

CHPSTM also has productive relationships with clusters of scholars in the humanities of science, technology, and medicine in Scotland (notably St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow) and internationally.

Resources

The University's libraries have superb collections for research in history of science, medicine and technology from the sixteenth century up to the present day. Holdings include a magnificent collection of incunabula and early printed works of natural philosophy and medicine; one of Scotland's fullest and most varied collections of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century scientific books and periodicals; and specific collections including 19th-century medical pamphlets, the Wolfenbuttel Plague Collection on microfiche, the Gregory Collection of scientific and medical works, and the O'Dell Collection on railways and transport.

  • There are extensive manuscript resources ranging from the thirteenth-century Aberdeen Bestiary (also available on-line) through the archives of Thomas Reid to records of local societies (e.g., the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society, the Aberdeen Philosophical Society; the Aberdeen Association of Civil Engineers) and industries. The Centre also makes strategic library purchases from time to time, including selections from the Boulton & Watt manuscripts (for which, see the University's library catalogue).
  • The Marischal Museum, King’s Museum and other sites provide rich resources for students of the material culture of science and medicine. The University is particularly fortunate in its unique Natural Philosophy collection, comprising scientific instruments associated with the teaching of natural philosophy at Aberdeen from the eighteenth century to the present day.