Science, History and Society MA

Year of entry

Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons)
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£11,500 (Total)
International fees
£24,500 (Total)

Course overview

Page of a book

From AI to zero-carbon fuels, the most far-reaching ideas and inventions in the world increasingly come from science. But where does science itself come from? How did it become so extraordinarily powerful and pervasive? And how can understanding more about science's past help us think more clearly and creatively about our present and future?

As a student on the MA in Science, History and Society, you'll be introduced to major interpretative debates about the nature and growth of science and its many social impacts, and to the skills needed to undertake original historical research and analysis.

A wide range of optional modules, including a popular work placement module in partnership with national organisations from heritage, culture and the third sector, will enable you to tailor the programme to your particular interests and career ambitions. Feedback from current students emphasises how much they value the breadth of choice, autonomy and support they enjoy on the Masters course

You’ll also have access to our excellent libraries and archives. In the Brotherton Library, our Special Collections include Newton’s Principia, a first edition of his Opticks plus rare books and journals from the 16th century onwards on topics such as astronomy, botany, medicine, physiology, chemistry, inventions and alchemy. You’ll also be able to explore the objects in our Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

We specialise in post 17th century History, and enjoy close links with our partner centres in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, as well as other disciplines at the University. Our blog showcases our expertise across diverse topics including history of midwifery, medical humanities, history of genetics, scientific explanation, history of electricity, philosophy of biology, science and religion, history of science communication, history of psychiatry and self-help, history of visual culture in medicine.

Our busy Research Centre hosts regular seminars given by visiting speakers, staff members and doctoral students and which all postgraduate students are encouraged to attend. We regularly host national and international conferences and workshops. There are also reading groups on a wide range of topics such as climate change, history of technology, science policy, history of biology and even science fiction. Our lively postgraduate community organises a variety of meetings and joint projects, as well as engaging with local schools and partner institutions. You can even help to curate our in-house Museum of History of Science, Technology and Medicine or adjudicate our annual ‘HPS in 20 objects’ essay competition.


The University offers a range of Postgraduate funding opportunities to help support you during your time studying with us.

Across our Faculty, we also have a number of generous awards and scholarships.

Course details

You can study part time or full time, and you’ll join our vibrant and friendly research community of academics, postdoctoral researchers, visiting fellows and alumni from around the globe.

Our wide range of modules allow you to tailor your studies to suit your interests.

Big issues in the History of Science: In your first semester you’ll take a compulsory module introducing you to key debates in the history and historiography of science, medicine and technology. You’ll encounter radically different narratives about scientific development – such as Marxist, Feminist, and Foucauldian narratives. You’ll weigh up the pros and cons of different historiographical methods, such as practice-oriented, communication-oriented, and object-oriented approaches. You’ll debate the value of integrated histories and philosophies of science.

Making Histories of Science: In the second semester a compulsory module will teach you practical historical skills and research methods, equipping you to work critically and sensitively with primary and secondary sources. You’ll learn how to locate and exploit resources, to interpret material objects and visual culture, conduct interviews, and navigate archives, as well how to design a research project and construct a historical narrative.

Optional modules throughout the year give you an opportunity to select specific sciences, to pursue philosophical perspectives, or to look at particular global or social contexts depending on your own interests. You’ll also have the chance to do a practical placement with a museum, archive or media organisation.

At the end of your course you’ll submit a dissertation, which is an independently researched piece of work on a topic of your choice within the history of science, technology and medicine – and you can choose to take an extended dissertation if you want to go into even greater depth. You’ll be supervised by one of our resident expert historians and philosophers of science.

If you choose to do a placement, you’ll get hands-on experience working one day a week with one of our partner organisations, which include national as well as Leeds-based organisations in heritage, culture and the third sector.

You’ll graduate with excellent written and oral presentation skills. You’ll also have developed a range of transferrable skills to aid you in further study or employment, whilst also acquiring a deep understanding of science, of the way we remember science, and of science’s place in society.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

We welcome applications from international students, from mature students, and from students with backgrounds in the sciences, as well as in arts and the humanities.

“The compulsory modules were the perfect introduction to the skills and chief debates in the subject. The reason why I decided to do this course in the first place was the external placement module and it didn't disappoint. The experience was wonderful. It broadened my horizons and showed me how history is used in practice and what career paths other than academia look like.”

Nela, Science, History and Society MA graduate

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Science, History and Society MA Full Time in the course catalogue

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Science, History and Society MA Part Time in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Making Histories of Science, Technology and Medicine 30
Big Issues in History of Science, Technology and Medicine 30

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Medicine and Warfare in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 30
Sexuality and Disease in African History 30
History and Philosophy of Science: Dissertation 60
Topics in the Philosophy of Physics 30
Perspectives on Mind, Brain & Society 30
History & Theory of Modern Science Communication 30
The Origin of Modern Medicine (Birth of the Clinic) 30
History and Philosophy of Science: Extended Dissertation 90
History and Philosophy of Technology 30
Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30
Topics in the Philosophy of Biology 30
External Placement 30

Learning and teaching

Most of our modules are taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, where you can discuss the issues arising from your reading with fellow students and your tutor.

You’ll also have one-to-one supervisions while you work on your dissertation. Independent study is also an important element of the course, allowing you to develop your skills and pursue your own interests more closely.

Watch our MA Science, History and Society subject talk to get a flavour of what it’s like to study at Leeds.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (Hons) in history or a related subject such as a science or social science, or a degree that includes modules in history of science, technology or medicine.

Our admissions team are experienced in considering a wide range of international qualifications. If you wish to discuss whether your qualifications will meet the necessary entry criteria, contact the School’s admissions team. You can also check the accepted qualifications for your country or region.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Please see our How to Apply page for information about application deadlines.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you need

  • Copies of your degree certificate and full transcript, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying.

  • A sample of your written work (2,000-3,000 words) on a topic relevant to the course. All samples must be typed and in English.

  • A personal statement of around 500 words, in response to the questions asked in the supporting statement section of the application.

The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures receives very large numbers of high-quality applications and regrets that it cannot make offers to all of its applicants. Some particularly popular schools may have to reject many that hold the necessary academic qualifications.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

Contact us

Postgraduate Administration Office



UK: £11,500 (Total)

International: £24,500 (Total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Part-time fees
Fees for part-time courses are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

You may be eligible for futher scholarships and funding, please see our School website for details.

You might also consider applying for a Master's Degree Bursary from the British Society for the History of Science."

Career opportunities

The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science has an excellent record of former students going on to a wide variety of careers and further study.

You’ll graduate from this course well-prepared for further study at PhD level, but also for a range of non-academic careers, for example at scientific foundations and institutions, in science communication and media, science policy, campaign groups and think tanks, public engagement via museums and heritage organisations, archival work, science PR and consultancy.

If you are currently a school teacher you may also wish to use the course to support your continuing professional development.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Student profile: Sam Hunter

One of the best things about the University of Leeds is how supportive the academics are, as well as how flexible the modules can be. I was able to shape my MA to my own interests.
Sam Hunter, Student
Find out more about Sam Hunter's time at Leeds