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Information about studying History of Science at TU Berlin

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This page informs about possibilities and constellations of studying History of Science at TU Berlin. It should be helpful both for those who consider History of Science as a suitable subject of study, and for those already enrolled in one of our programs. It also collects some helpful working tools in History of Science. As not all of the websites referred to do have an English translation, you are welcome to contact us with any further questions concerning your studies.

General information about the BA program "Kultur und Technik mit Schwerpunkt Wissenschaftsgeschichte" ("Culture and Technology with core discipline History of Science and Technology") and the interdisciplinary MA program "Geschichte und Kultur der Wissenschaft und Technik" ("History and Culture of Science and Technology") can be found under the links given (at this moment in German only). For general questions of your studies, you might contact the student counseling of the faculty I (webpage German only, but with English speaking students). If you are an exchange student, see also the Office of International Affairs of the TU Berlin.

Information about current and past courses as well as an annotated course catalogue of our institute is available here. You might also have a look at the courses offered in the BA-module "Berufsorientierung" (vocational orientation; courses for the summer term 2018), as it offers an opportunity to obtain or to refresh basic skills of scientific work. 

We have created a guideline for how to write a seminar paper (Leitfaden zur Erstellung von Hausarbeiten) and will upload an English version soon. For any questions concerning the formal requirements or the procedure of writing your seminar paper, do not hesitate to contact the supervising lecturer. We also provide a list of the Bachelor and Master theses that have been completed at the chair for the history of science. You might use it as a source of inspiration when deciding on what subject you will write your own thesis.

Tools for studying History of Science

Starting work in a new field is never easy. Therefore, we have collected some of the working tools of History of Science. We recommend to familiarize yourself with those tools at the beginning of your studies - the invested time will be well spent as the processes of writing an essay, seminar paper, or your final thesis will be facilitated considerably.

Of course, the list of tools cannot be comprehensive, neither concerning the categories nor the examples provided therein. For more specific advice, please contact the supervising lecturer. If you come across further tools that prove to be helpful in your own work and that are not yet included in the list, you are most welcome to let us know.

Digital Tools

Especially for working at home, the VPN service of the TU Berlin provides an extraordinary tool. As a student or employee of the TU Berlin, the VPN service can be used to access the intranet from outside the TU, thereby enabling the user to benefit from the intranet services (e.g. retrieval of digitized media or research in databases). Explanations of how to get access are to be found here.

If you are using two or more computers or if you want to share your files within a working group, the use of a cloud is advisable. The TU Berlin offers its own service, called tubcloud. Among others, it provides means for the synchronization of data saved on different devices and the simplification of working collaboratively on shared files. More information about the service can be found on the TubIT-Website.

For larger projects, either for oneself or in a group, a Reference Management Software is of great help. Citation mistakes can thereby be reduced and the time to create a bibliography or to include citations is appreciably shortened. Moreover, such tools provide support in maintaining an overview about the literature used for a specific paper or project. The library of the TU regularly offers introductory courses (available in German only) to Citavi and Zotero.

The University Library, Bibliographies and Databases

You can find literature on the History of Science in the libraries of the TU Berlin, not only in the central library ("Zentralbibliothek") but also in the libraries of the respective departments. Introductions to research tools, for beginners as well as for advanced students, are provided by the TU and can be found here (available in German only).

Bibliographies are a suitable means to get an overview of the literature of a specific field of research in the history of science. Among many, we just highlight the "Isis current/cumulative bibliography of the history of science and its cultural influences" (available here) as well as the website IsisCB Explore, which stand out due to their wide scope.

Research can also be facilitated by the use of databases: the university library provides the access to a collection of such through the "Datenbank-Infosystem (DBIS)" (available in German only; for the history of science, the categories Geschichte and Wissenschaftskunde, Forschungs-, Hochschul-, Museumswesen are of particular interest.) The range of different data-bases for specific purposes is yet too wide to give any comprehensive account of the field. Nonetheless, the Kalliope Union Catalog for personal papers, manuscripts, and publishers' archives should be mentioned. It provides a finding aid for archival sources of German speaking persons.

Overviews, Journals and Societies

There are numerous overview presentations of History of Science in various scope and depth. Two works, most possibly helpful, are:

Lindberg, David C./Numbers, Ronald L. (Hgg.) (2002- ): The Cambridge History of Science. 8 vol's. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sommer, Marianne/Müller-Wille Staffan/Reinhardt, Carsten (Hgg.) (2017): Handbuch Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Stuttgart: Metzler, J.B..

For short, well researched biographic information best see the Dictionary of Scientific Biography:

Gillispie, Charles (Hgg.) (1970-1980): Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 16 vol's. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Koertge, Noretta (Hgg.) (2008): New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 8 vol's. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. (Update and Supplement to the Dictionary of Scientific Biography)

The landscape of History of Science journals is wide and also in journals that are not specifically dedicated to the history of science, relevant papers can be found. We only list three widely read journals you can find in the TU library and which are accessible online through the university network:

Isis : an international review devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences; journal of the History of Science Society. (This journal stands out due to its extensive review activity.)

Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte : Organ der Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte e.V.

NTM; Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin.

There are numerous professional societies for the history of science on national and international level. In Germany, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik (DGGMNT) and the Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte (GWG) are the most important ones. They have recently unified to form the new Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, der Medizin und der Technik (GWMT).

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