History and Philosophy of Science  


Science is important. At universities, students are taught specialized knowledge and skills that are highly valued in society. In this minor programme we take a step back and reflect on science itself, both from a historical and a philosophical perspective. In this way, we remove some of the self-evidence that surrounds our ideas of science, e.g. that it is experimental, objective, critical, and secular. Historians have shown, for example, that in the seventeenth century, doing experiments was a novel way of studying nature, and not everybody agreed that it produced valuable knowledge. The eventual dominance of science, therefore, is something to be explained rather than taken for granted. And even when, in the nineteenth century, modern science had taken shape, philosophical questions remained. What exactly is the scientific method? do scientific theories, and the entities they speak of, represent reality? Centuries of debate have deepened our understanding of the issues involved – but not resolved them. Needless to say, in this minor, you will be reading, writing and discussing a lot.        

Study programme 

The minor History and Philosophy of Science consists of four courses (30 ECTS). 

The first two courses are mandatory: 

  • Early Modern Knowledges and the Intercultural Encounter, BETA-B2EMK, period 4. 
  • Introduction to Philosophy of Science, BETA-B2FGN, period 2. 

You also have to follow two of the following four courses: 

  • Making Modern Science: A History of Chemistry, 1750-1950, BETA-B3MMS, period 1. 
  • Living pasts, exploring futures: augmenting urban landscapes and ecology in the digital age, BETA-B3LH, period 1.  

  • Changing Nature: A History of Climatic and Environmental Knowledge, BETA-B3CN, period 2.  
  • History and Philosophy of Biology, B-B3GESB05, period 4.  

Note: You can attend each of these courses separately. It is not required to be enrolled in the minor to participate in them. The order in which you follow the courses is up to you. To complete the minor, you will also have to register in Osiris.  


There are no specific prerequisites for this minor. It offers valuable background knowledge and depth to any bachelor programme. Given the highly interdisciplinary nature of the subject, most students will find it refreshingly different. In addition, this minor is the ideal preparation for the master History and Philosophy of Science.  

More information?

If you wish to know more, or have questions about this minor, please contact the minor coordinator: Daan Wegener.