The programme begins with an Introductory module which provides basic knowledge of the history, economics, and philosophy of science and the connections among these disciplines. A second module from an empirical science or “object discipline” is added to this Introductory module.
Three main modules follow. These are dedicated to the development of science, the economics of science, and the methods of science, respectively.
One semester is spent at a partner institution abroad; these partner institutions include Torun (PL), the University of Bologna (IT), Budapest (HU), ENS in Paris (FR) as well as the universities Notre Dame (US), Tilburg (NL), Uppsala (SE) and Vienna (AT). Moreover, an internship of six weeks is required.
The programme is completed with a Master’s thesis. Please note: As a non-native German speaker, before one applies for the Master's certificate at the registrar's office, one must present language skills in German at the level of B1.
Please click on the or the title to receive more information on each module.
The Introductory module (20 credit points) consists of three introductory courses in the history of science, economics of science, and philosophy of science. The introductory course “History of science” introduces students to the origins and development of science. The course “Economics of science” focusses on the relationship between science and technological progress, incentives in the scientific community, and the efficiency of knowledge production. The course “Philosophy of science” addresses epistemic strategies and methodological characteristics of science. These three introductory courses are linked in the seminar “science studies”. This seminar is an interdisciplinary collaboration and considers texts from the three disciplines in an integrated context. It aims to develop an understanding of interdisciplinary science studies.
The Main module 1: Development of the sciences (12 credit points) focusses on the historical changes of the sciences. It makes epochal and disciplinary characteristics visible but also provides opportunities for structural comparison that transcend epochs. In particular, stress is laid on shifts in theories, worldviews, institutions, methods and experimental cultures as well as on the differentiation of research contexts.
The Main module 2: Economics of science (12 credit points) deals with the interrelations between science and the economy. On the one hand, science is understood as a resource for the economy. On the other hand, the impact of this instrumental use on research is analysed. For example, the focus is first of all on technological innovations and their connections to science. Secondly, emphasis is placed on the incentive structures in the scientific community or the commercialisation of research.
The Main module 3: Methods in science (12 credit points) consists of advanced courses on the nature of scientific knowledge production. The focus is on methodological characteristics of science, its epistemic strategies of discovery, justification, and application. These are analysed with respect to their viability and their dependency on influences from intellectual history or society in the course of their historical change. Students learn to understand the reasons of validity of scientific knowledge and the significance and boundaries of the scientific method.
The Main module 4: Object disciplines (12 credit points) is supposed to make students familiar with an empirical science, be it a natural science, a social science or mathematics. This module enables students to understand scientific thinking and scientific methods by relying on a particular discipline. Correspondingly, studying science and doing science are brought into a close relationship. Due to collaboration agreements with relevant departments, a broad range of introductory courses in the natural and social sciences is ensured. These are modules of Bachelor’s programmes but are accepted in the framework of an interdisciplinary Master’s programme. A special seminar links these modules to the programme’s objective of studying science. Main module 4 is ungraded.
International students who are unable to follow classes taught in German are encouraged to work out, in cooperation with and assisted by the management of the programme, an individualised schedule of English-language courses in the sciences. However, the range of choice will be considerably smaller as compared to its German-language counterpart. In addition, it is to be expected that classes taught in English in the sciences are for the most part rather advanced so that previous knowledge might be requisite.
Completion of this module is recommended for the first semester. Thus, international students are able to see whether there are suitable courses on offer before they actually enroll and begin their studies.
The Internship (12 credit points) adds practical experience to the knowledge gained in the programme. The length of the internship is six weeks. It should be completed during the semester breaks and concludes with a written report focusing on the theoretical reflection on the work carried out during the internship. In the selection of internships existing contacts of the teachers may be of help.
The Final module: MA thesis (30 credit points) consists of writing a Master’s thesis of approximately 70 pages. Moreover, participation in the final colloquium is required, in which plans for the thesis are discussed and presented. In addition, the thesis is defended.
The individual supplementary programme (10 credit points) enables students to develop their individual profile. In this context courses can be selected from other programmes at Bielefeld University.
The programme can be entered in both the winter and summer semesters; it is, however, designed for entrance in the winter semester. In the first semester, the Introductory module and the main module “object disciplines” should be completed. The second and third semesters should be devoted to the three main modules, the fourth semester to the writing of the MA thesis. If the programme is entered in the summer semester, the length of study is likely to increase.
The examination and study regulations for Master’s programmes (PSO , Prüfungs- und Studienordnung in German) are the guidelines for Master’s programmes at Bielefeld University. The PSO for the HEPS programme are specified by the regulations for the Master’s programme History, Economics and Philosophy of Science (HEPS) (FsB, Fächerspezifische Bestimmungen in German). The course of study is described in the Handbook of Modules.
PSO, FsB and Handbook of Modules for HEPS can be found on the website “Programme Information: HEPS” of the Bielefeld Information system (BIS) (under "Navigation"; For the Handbook of Modules, follow the link "List of Modules (Course of study)"):
Programme Information: HEPS