Vorlesung im grossen Hörsaal für anorganische und organische Chemie der ETH Zürich um 1910. Bildnachweis: ETH-Bibliothek Zürich, Bildarchiv

Program of Study

History of Technology deals with the social conditions, technological challenges, economic climate and political context in which technology arises and in which it is debated, introduced, modified or discarded.

With contemporary issues as a starting point, questions are geared to a historical reflection space, which enables scope and flexibility in analysis.

Students learn about approaches to argumentation specific to history of technology and develop a sense of the interdependence of technology and society.

Teaching formats

History of Technology courses are offered in four different teaching formats:

The WebClass Introductory Course History of Technology deals with selected fundamental issues in the history of technology: technology as dream machine, nightmare technology, applied technology, technology and society, technology as a driver of history, technology and innovation. This course is always given as a fall semester Web class comprising five online sections and two classroom meetings.

The Advanced Course History of Technology focuses on varying themes and methodological problems. Participants learn how to formulate questions relevant to history of technology. The course is conducted every semester as a seminar in “blended learning.” Successful completion of the Introductory Course is a prerequisite for the Advanced Course.

The Master/PhD Colloquium on History of Technology is intended for advanced master’s and PhD students. The colloquium provides a forum for discussing practical problems from the participants’ thesis research on history of technology.

The Research Colloquium History of Knowledge consists of seven guest lectures and a concluding discussion on a key issue in the history of knowledge.

Course ground rules

Registering for our courses is as easy as booking an adventure holiday: A few mouse clicks is all it takes. But acquiring academic credits is hardly comparable to collecting frequent flyer points for a long-distance flight. Because learning requires hard work, credits can only be acquired through reading, writing and discussion.

The compulsory elective and the History and Philosophy of Knowledge master’s program are evaluated as graded performance for the semester. This requires your mental presence, your active participation as well as the timely delivery of assignments.

Additional credits can be acquired by writing seminar papers. Awarding of credits for University of Zurich students is governed by the requirements of their degree program. General guidelines for seminar papers apply.

Courses conducted in virtual space require particular attention to the rules. This applies especially to deadlines and to the form of your reports.


Each course uses virtual forums to present student assignments, to discuss questions about history of technology and to enable exchange of opinion among participants. Course teaching assistants are available to answer most of the questions students have. In addition, during the semester Prof. Dr. David Gugerli holds office hours that you can sign up for by e-mail.