University of Manchester, Department of Liberal Studies in Science Archive

Scope and Content

Fragmentary archive of the Department of Liberal Studies in Science, which existed between 1966 and 1983. Minutes for the departmental board and the staff student consultative committee are present for 1978 to 1982. There are also miscellaneous syllabus documents including course descriptions and reading lists.

Administrative / Biographical History

The subject of Liberal Studies in Science represented an interesting initiative by the University in the 1960s to establish a new discipline. The subject, popularly known as 'Science Greats', aimed to give a broader education in scientific subjects, which included the sociological, economic , historical and philosophical aspects of science. It resulted from concerns that university science had become too specialised and disconnected from wider societal issues, and also failed to take account of emerging career opportunities in the public policy and communications areas of science. It was hoped that the new discipline would lead to a more imaginative linking of teaching and research in the physical sciences and social sciences, providing science students with a broader 'liberal' education. Professor Frederick Jevons (1929-2012), formerly of the University's department of biological chemistry, played a leading role in establishing the subject, and was appointed to the first chair in the subject.

The course was introduced in the1966/7 session as an undergraduate degree, and was followed by a masters degree. The course was distinctive in its insistence that 'pure' science modules were taught alongside the sociological and philosophical ones . Originally the "pure" modules focussed on the physical sciences (chemistry and physics) but in the early 1970s life science options were added. The 'liberal' part of the course included modules in "Technology and Society", "Science and Society", "Science and Government", energy policy, and economics. The department was part of the Faculty of Science, and its courses were overseen by a special board of studies. The department was renamed Science Technology and Policy in 1983, and continued until superseded by a board of studies in 1990. A research centre, Programme for Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology (PREST) was developed in the mid-1980s, and this later evolved into the current Manchester Institute of Innovation Research.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader, unless otherwise stated.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 2018. Under the Act 2018 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for archiving and research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The papers were accumulated by Dr Geoff Price of the Department. He later transferred them to the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, probably in the 1980s. They were transferred from there to the University Archives in October 2014.


Further accruals possible.

Related Material

The Vice-Chancellor's archive has two files on the Department, which provide background on its administration: VCA/7/902, and VCA/7/558 (chair appointment of Frederick Jevons). A file in the Department of Botany archive, DBO/2/10, includes information on the biological subject areas covered by the Department's courses.


See Frederick Jevons' essay on the subject in John Knapp, Michael Swanton, F.R. Jevons (eds)., University perspectives (Manchester 1970) .

Geographical Names