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Department of

History and Philosophy of Science   

Undergraduate Program


HPS Honors

Requirements for the Major

Undergraduate Course Offerings

Certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh Summer Sessions

Overview of the Certificate Program:
The Certificate Program in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine is offered through the HPS department. The undergraduate Certificate Program is designed to offer a group of related courses in the areas of medical ethics, the nature of explanation and evidence in the biomedical sciences, and social problems such as assessments of alternative forms of health care delivery. The Program is likely to be of particular interest to pre-med students and others interested in health-related professions, but is intended to appeal to all students interested in social and philosophical problems in the biomedical sciences.

Application Information:
You can download the application form and return it to the department via campus mail or in person at the office (1017 CL). Download Printable Application form in:

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  1. The two introductory core courses (HPS 0612 and 0613) in conceptual foundations of medicine.
  2. A two-term college-level course in biology.
  3. Two additional upper-level courses in two different departments dealing with social and conceptual issues in the biomedical sciences.
  4. At least a C grade in each of the required courses and at least a C+ average overall in the certificate requirements.

    Core Courses from the History and Philosophy of Science Department:

    • HPS #0612
    • Mind and Medicine
    • 3 Credits

    This course focuses on questions of the aims of medicine, its scientific status and its relation to the natural sciences. These questions are pursued in the context of psychiatry, neurology, genetics, and the process of physical diagnosis.

    • HPS #0613
    • Morality and Medicine
    • 3 Credits

    This course is an introduction to the ethical, legal, and social problems which are part of the modern practice of medicine. It begins with a brief introduction to various types of moral theories (e.g., Kantian, Utilitarian, Naturalistic) followed by discussions of truth-telling in medicine, informed consent, euthanasia, abortion, and the relation between political systems and health care. The focus throughout will be on the role of moral values in medical treatment.

Electives Offered for Fall Term (2111)

    - African American Health Issues AFRCNA 1710/14674
    - Bio-cultural Anthropology ANTH 0620/12460
    - Human Sexuality in Cross Culture ANTH 0768/33122 & 36929
    - Special Topics in Cultural Anthropology ANTH 1737/37747
    - Patients and Healers ANTH 1761/38188
    - History of Medicine and Health Care HIST1090/11982 & SOC 1488/11984
    - Environmental Politics HIST 1695/37087
    - Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/12658 & 14492
    - Philosophy and Public Issues PHIL 0350/37001
    - Global Environmental Politics PS 1542/14560
    - Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/14550 & 16988
    - Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality PSY 1112/14898
    - Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY 1210/13876
    - Health Psychology PSY 1215/14340 & 15274
    - Psychology of Death and Dying PSY1230/36668
    - Alcohol Use and Abuse PSY 1235/36669
    - History of the Holocaust RELGST 1252/33598, JS 1252/33600 & HIST 1769/33596
    - Medical Sociology SOC 0477/36989
    - Social Problems & Moral Crusades SOC 1324/32934
    - Special Topics: Gendered Bodies WOMNST 1140/13048

Electives Offered for Summer Term (2107)

    - The Archeologist Looks at Death ANTH 0538/12046 (6WK-1)
    - Human Sexuality in Cross Culture ANTH 0768/12048 (12WK)
    - Patients and Healers: Medical Anthropology 1 ANTH 1761/26996 (6WK-1)
    - Special Topics in Cultural Anthropology ANTH 1787/11722 (Summer Term)
    - Drugs and Behavior NROSCI 0081/11354 & 12062 (6WK-1)
    - Global Environment Politics PS 1542/11936 (External Studies)
    - Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality PSY 1110/11952 (Summer Term)
    - Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY 1210/11798 (6WK-1)
    - Health Psychology PSY 1215/13292 (6WK-2)
    - Health Psychology PSY 1215/26674 (Summer Term)
    - Psychology of Death and Dying PSY 1230/12060 (6WK-1)

Electives Offered for Spring Term (2104)

    - The Archeologist Looks at Death-ANTH #0538/12616
    - Human Sexuality in Cross Culture-ANTH #0768/14832
    - Special Topics in Cultural Anthropology: Body and Lifecourse in East Asia-ANTH #1737/36096
    - Drugs and Behavior NROSCI #0081/13422, 14454, 33718
    - Philosophy and Public Issues PHIL #0350/2104
    - Biomedical Ethics PHIL #1360/37334
    - Global Environmental Politics PS #1542/13990
    - Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality PSY#1110/14812,14994
    - Introduction to Clinical Psychology PSY #1210/13666
    - Health Psychology PSY #1215/14496, 35448
    - Psychology of Death and Dying PSY #1230/33640
    - Psychology of Aging PSY #1357/33438
    - Medical Sociology #0477/15526
    - Health and Illness SOC #1450/37968

    Alternative elective courses to satisfy the Conceptual Foundations requirement

    If you believe that there is a course that deals with the social and conceptual issues in the bio-medical sciences, and that it should satisfy the elective requirement for the certification, you must:

  • 1. obtain the description of the course
  • 2. write a very short explanation of why the course ought to count toward satisfaction of the elective requirement, by showing how it deals with social or conceptual issues in the bio-medical sciences
  • 3. submit both to the Undergraduate Advisor for approval.

The list of elective courses is not fixed, and so other courses well may be approved. However, they must have a major component that deals with social and conceptual issues of bio-medicine so it will make an impact that BIOSC 1250-Human PHYSIOLOGY and NROSCI 1250-HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY are not CFM Electives and will not count towards the CFM certificate.

Important Certificate Information:

  • All required courses must be completed with a "C" average or better. Pass/Fail grades do not count.

  • IMPORTANT: Your two upper level elective courses MUST be from two different departments.

  • The department will furnish a list of courses which satisfy the requirements in the "Other" or "Upper Level" category. It will be available on-line at the beginning of each registration period or by stopping in the office or phoning the department at 624-5896.

  • If you require academic advising with respect to the required courses, please make an appointment to see Professor Peter Machamer, 1017 CL, e-mail:

  • Use #170042 as the Secondary Academic Program Code number on your registration form to ensure proper credit on your final transcript.

  • During the first few weeks of your final term of your senior year fill out an additional application in the CAS Dean's Office (140 Thackeray Hall). This will ensure the processing of the certificate information onto your transcript. If this process is not completed in a timely manner, a processing fee will be assessed by the Registrar.

  • It is your responsibility to bring a copy of your final transcript to the HPS Department for coursework/GPA verification of the six courses taken. If everything is correct we will then issue a certificate in your name to the permanent address listed on your original application.