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School of History and Philosophy of Science

Placing science in its historical and social context
At the crossroads of arts and science, we examine past and current developments in all areas of science, technology and medicine from a range of humanistic perspectives.

History and philosophy of science (HPS) is an ideal way to critically engage with science and its social and cultural significance. Any student with a genuine interest in science will derive benefit from the study of this discipline.

Teaching at the School of History and Philosophy of Science

Teaching staff in the School of History and Philosophy of Science have published widely in their fields of expertise and have gained international recognition for their research. This makes them fantastic educators, sharing their knowledge and experiences in the classroom so students can be at the forefront of innovations in the field.

The University of Sydney is ranked first in Australia and fourth in the world for graduate employability.* This stems from our immersive, research-led teaching which prepares students for the real-world and a successful career.

*QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020.

News Bites

Professor Peter Godfrey-Smith  Metazoa: Animal Minds and the Birth of Consciousness

In his acclaimed book, Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith explored the mind of the octopus – the closest thing to an intelligent alien on Earth. In Metazoa, he expands his inquiry to animals at large, investigating the evolution of experience with the assistance of far-flung species. Godfrey-Smith shows that the appearance of the first animal body form well over half a billion years ago was a profound innovation that set life upon a new path. He charts the ways that subsequent evolutionary developments – eyes that track, for example, and bodies that move through and manipulate the environment – shaped the lives of animals. Following the evolutionary paths of a glass sponge, soft coral, banded shrimp, octopus and fish, then moving onto land and the world of insects, birds and primates like ourselves, Metazoa gathers these stories together to bridge the gap between matter and mind and address one of the most important philosophical questions: what is the origin of consciousness?


The Origins of Modern Science is the first attempt at a synthetic account of the history of science in many decades. Providing readers of all backgrounds and students of all disciplines with the tools to study science like a historian, Ofer Gal covers a breathtaking array of topics from antiquity through the Scientific Revolution, from Pythagorean mathematics to Newton’s Principia

The narrative meanders through Islamic medicine, medieval architecture, global commerce, Mongol astronomy and scholarly and practical magic.  Richly illustrated throughout, the book introduces scientific reasoning and practices in accessible and engaging ways, with an emphasis on the complex relationships between institutions, beliefs and political structures and customs. It offers valuable new insights into the role that science plays both in history and in the world today, placing the crucial challenges to science and technology of our time within their historical and cultural context.


We are pleased to announce Dominic Murphy as the new HoS of HPS. He is a great advocate for the discipline of HPS, a highly respected researcher and teacher in his field.

We would sincerely like to thank Hans Pols for his commitment to the exceptional growth and development of the School of HPS as HoS, and wish him well in his new endeavours. 


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