Dr Adam Mosley
Associate Professor
Telephone: (01792) 295637
Room: Office - 132
First Floor
James Callaghan
Singleton Campus

I read Natural Sciences at Cambridge University as an undergraduate, studying physics, chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology, before deciding that I preferred libraries and museums to laboratories. After studying for an MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science, I embarked on a PhD in the history of early modern astronomy. I was Jane Eliza Proctor Fellow at Princeton University, 1999-2000, and a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, 2000-2004, with an affiliation to the Cambridge University Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

I served on the Council of the British Society for the History of Science between 2006 and 2009, and was Reviews Editor for the  British Journal for the History of Science from mid-2010 until mid-2015. I am currently the Chair of the Conferences Committee of the Society.

I was a Visiting Fellow at CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities) and Wolfson College, of the University of Cambridge, in Michaelmas Term 2007, and a Dibner Research Fellow in the History of Science & Technology at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, during the academic year 2015-2016.

I am a member of MEMO, Swansea's Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Research and its current Director.


Areas of Expertise

  • early modern astronomy
  • early modern science
  • cosmography
  • book history
  • history of museums
  • material culture of the sciences


  1. Mosley, A. ‘Sundials and Other Cosmographical Instruments’: Historical Categories and Historians’ Categories in the Study of Mathematical Instruments and Disciplines. In Joshua Nall, Liba Taub, & Frances Willmoth (Ed.), The Whipple Museum of the History of Science (pp. 55-82). Cambridge University Press
  2. Wootton, D., Rublack, U., Mosley, A., & Bragg, M.
  3. Mosley, A. After Tycho: Philippist astronomy and cosmology in the work of Brahe’s Scandinavian assistants. Medicine, natural philosophy and religion in post-Reformation Scandinavia (pp. 60-81). Routledge
  4. Mosley, A. Oxford Bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation. Ed. Margaret King

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  • HI-M01 Historical Methods and Approaches

    This module provides training in advanced historical research. It is designed to introduce students to methods of historical investigation, writing, and presentation, and to important historical resources (including archives, collections of sources, and museums). Attention will be given to the use of IT in historical work work as well as more traditional paper-based methods.

  • HI-M22 Dissertation

    Students produce a dissertation of up to 20,000 words on a historical topic, chosen in conjunction with their supervisor. This represents the culmination of the History MAs, and constitutes Part Two of the programme.

  • HI-M39 Research Folder

    This module is designed to help students to identify a dissertation topic appropriate to their interests and expertise, and to tackle the problems of methodology, develop the research techniques, and undertake the project planning which are the necessary preliminaries to researching and writing a 20,000 word dissertation.

  • HI-M80 Directed Reading in History

    Under the guidance of an expert supervisor, students analyse developments in research and historiography relating to a topic in History which they choose from a wide range of options.

  • HIH118 Early Modern World, 1500-1800

    In 1500, European exploration and colonisation of the rest of the world was only in its infancy. America, two continents North and South, had been unknown to Europeans until just eight years previously. Most of it was still unmapped by Europeans, as were large parts of the rest of the world. By 1800, on the other hand, it was possible to construct a recognisable modern version of a world map. Europeans had explored, colonised, and resettled huge swathes of America in the first instances. They had killed or displaced millions of Native Americans in the process, wiping out whole civilisations, and they had enslaved 12 million or more Africans in that same process, inflicting immense damage on African societies. Europeans were in the early stages of colonising large parts of Africa and Asia too by 1800. And yet, advances in science had transformed human understanding of the universe, of the world, and indeed of ourselves. This was connected through the Renaissance in art, culture, and politics as well as science, to enormous changes in the structure of polities and societies. The early modern era perhaps saw the invention not only of modern empires, but of large, centralised modern states. Also, the Renaissance and then Enlightenment changed the way people and states interacted. Arguably, the early modern period represents the transition period between an era of medieval hierarchy and the origins of modern social and political democracy. Essentially, the aim of the module, through your lectures, seminars, and independent reading and thinking, is to give you a sense of the connections between these places and their histories, highlighting that the increasing inter-connection between them is itself a feature of the early modern period. You¿ll also get a broad sense of how the world as a whole changed between 1500 and 1800.

  • HIH122 Making History

    History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television. This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.

  • HIH237 The Practice of History

    The purpose of the module is to encourage you to think more deeply about how historians work and, in particular, about how we as historians can locate and use primary historical sources effectively as a means of interpreting and understanding the past. During the module we will learn about the survival of historical evidence, how it is organised and made accessible to historians to undertake their research, and how to effectively locate and interpret it in your studies. We will consider how the process of doing historical research changes over time, in particular with the impact of recent developments like digitization. At the core of the module will be the work you undertake with others in your seminar group using a range of primary sources which your seminar tutor will introduce to you. As part of the module assessment you will also undertake your own primary source based research project using items from these collections. The module is designed strengthen your analytical skills and to help prepare you for the more extensive uses of primary evidence which you will encounter in final year special subjects and dissertation.

  • HIH240 Europe 1500-1650: Renaissance, Reformation and Religious War

    This course examines the turbulent period in the history of Europe (including Britain), which encompassed the spread of Renaissance artistic and literary values beyond the Italian peninsula, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and conflicts such as the French Wars of Religion, the Dutch Revolt, and the Thirty Years¿ War. The module will explore not only the political significance of these events, and their effects on the ruling classes, but also their implications for wider European society and culture. Particular attention will be paid to using the knowledge acquired to understand written and visual sources produced in the period.

  • HIH3300 History Dissertation

    The History dissertation is a free-standing, 40-credit module that runs across both semesters of Level Three. Candidates conduct research upon a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of staff teaching for the degrees in History, and concerning a topic that falls within staff research and teaching interests.

  • HIHD00 Heritage Dissertation (Practice-Based)

    This module affords students the opportunity to complete their MA in Heritage by undertaking a practical heritage project. The project, worth 67% of the marks, may be undertaken independently, or via a placement with a heritage project or organisation. It will be accompanied by a reflective commentary worth 33% of the marks.

  • HIHD01 Heritage Dissertation (Written)

    Students produce a dissertation on a heritage topic, chosen and developed in conjunction with their supervisor in line with the standard College MA requirements.

  • HIHM04 Heritage Work Placement

    This module enables students to gain practical experience of working with a heritage organisation or project in a graduate-level role. Placements may involve the acquisition of skills in museum work, community projects, heritage interpretation and policy (but are not restricted to these areas). Group discussion and individual tutorials will support students in preparing an extended essay reflecting on their work experience in the context of literature on heritage and public history.

  • PIND01 Dissertation

    In the final section of the MA, the student writes a 10,000- 15,000- word philosophy dissertation on an approved topic of their choice and defends it in a viva voce exam. The student is prepared for this endeavour in part by the earlier `Mind and Reality¿ and `Values and Society¿ seminars, which provide an advanced introduction to academic philosophical writing, research, and presentation skills. In those seminars, the student has an opportunity to write and receive feedback on a dissertation proposal in a group context. The student is also prepared in part by the earlier optional modules in which they write essays and defend them in individual tutorials. In the dissertation module, the student meets with an assigned supervisor to finalize their proposal and to discuss and refine successive drafts. Once the dissertation has been submitted, the student defends it in a 50-minute viva voce exam.

  • PINM01 Aesthetics

    This module is concerned with aesthetic experience and aesthetic objects, their nature and their value. In more detail: (1) Aesthetic experience and its role in ethical formation. (Why does Plato banish poets from his ideal republic? What is Aristotle¿s notion of catharsis? What roles can art play in the education of the emotions?) (2) The nature of aesthetic objects (What is Collingwood's expression theory of art? What is it for an artwork to represent reality?) (3) The nature of aesthetic value (Does Hume provide an adequate response to his puzzle about the standard of taste? Is there a defensible form of subjectivism about value?) Key texts from the past are explored and set in context with contemporary commentaries.

  • PINM02 Ancient Philosophy

    The module surveys ancient Greek philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the post-Aristotelian schools, with most attention paid to Plato and Aristotle, and in particular the Phaedo, Republic, Physics and De Anima. Topics covered belong mainly to epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of mind. There is a focus on the evolution of philosophy as a discipline with a distinctive method, particularly as shaped by Socratic practice. Aristotle¿s work is considered as a critical response to Plato¿s, especially in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, but also in relation to pre-Socratic thinkers. The module opens with Heraclitus and Parmenides, and concludes with the epistemological controversies of the Stoics and Sceptics.

  • PINM03 Contemporary Ethics

    This module investigates advanced topics in ethics, with a focus on `second-order¿ questions about the nature and significance of our ethical practices: What do our ethical expressions mean? What, if anything, makes these expressions true? How do moral values motivate? Is it irrational to be amoral? What are the similarities and differences between the domains of ethics and of science? Key texts from the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries are explored and set in context with ethical thinkers of the more distant past. Relationships between `second-order¿ and `first-order¿ ethical questions are considered.

  • PINM04 Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

    This module investigates questions about knowledge and the justification of beliefs, both generally and in the particular setting of the sciences. What relations must our beliefs have to the world, and to each other, in order to count as knowledge? We discuss approaches ranging from those shaped by the Cartesian pursuit of individual certainty through first-personal reasoning to those that treat the topics in more naturalistic and/or social terms. Sense-perception and testimony are among the areas investigated. In connection with the sciences, we examine the problems of induction, questions about theory-laden observation, and a variety of more specific methodological questions.

  • PINM05 History of Ethics

    This module is an introduction to the history of philosophical ethics in the west. We will study closely five classic works, by Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Mill. Besides placing these works in their respective historical settings, the lectures will introduce other important trends and figures from the ancient, medieval and modern periods. We will consider to what extent the questions of ethics have changed, and how the ostensibly divergent outlooks of different thinkers relate to each other. We will also link ethical debate with questions about politics, religion and law, and consider the relationship between philosophical and everyday thinking about how to live.

  • PINM06 Kant to Nietzsche

    In this module we study Kant¿s Critique of Pure Reason and the works of major thinkers who followed in the century after it: in particular, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. Themes include freedom, reality, and morality. Besides Kant¿s first Critique, set readings include substantial extracts from Hegel¿s Phenomenology of Spirit and Schopenhauer¿s The World as Will and Representation, and the whole of Nietzsche¿s On the Genealogy of Morality.

  • PINM08 Metaphysics

    This module investigates the fundamental nature of reality, beginning with ontology (the science of being), before turning to consider time, modality, causality, personal identity, and free will. What is existence? Could two objects be exactly similar in every respect? Are entities of two fundamental kinds, particulars and universals? In virtue of what is it true that Aristotle could have been a poet? Does time flow? Is the future real? Are we simply our bodies? Under what conditions does a person continue to exist from one time to another? If the thesis of determinism is true, in what sense (if any) can we be free?

  • PINM09 Philosophy of Mind and Language

    This module introduces students to foundational concepts, problems, and theories in the philosophy of mind and language. Beginning with the mind: What, if anything, is it, and how does it relate to the body? What is the nature of a mental state, such as a qualitative sensation (e.g. pain) or a propositional attitude (e.g. belief)? What is consciousness? Can there be mental causation, and if so, how? Is there an asymmetry between our knowledge of our own minds and those of others? Turning to language: How are the meanings of our expressions fixed? Are they determined by what¿s in our heads or are these meanings partly constituted by our environment and our practices of interpreting each other? And how do the meanings of simple expressions combine to determine those of more complex ones, especially in indirect discourse and ascriptions of propositional attitudes?

  • PINM10 Mind and Reality

    These seminars in theoretical philosophy are specially designed to cultivate the research, speaking and writing skills that are requisite for a career in the philosophy profession as well as supportive of an informed, reflective and thoughtful approach to life. They also help prepare students for their dissertation and viva. The student¿s summative work can be on a topic of their choice from a wide selection offered at the start of each term by the module leader.

  • PINM11 Modern Philosophy

    This module focuses on the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries ¿ a period in which there was a decisive break with ancient philosophy. It investigates the main works of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley and Hume with an emphasis on their epistemology and metaphysics. The latter figures are investigated as main representatives of the empiricist tradition, writing in reaction ¿ in part ¿ to the rationalist tradition exemplified by Descartes.

  • PINM12 Political Philosophy

    Authority, liberty, democracy, justice, the market: these are themes of huge interest to us not just as citizens but as philosophers too. They have called forth many of the classics of the subject, from Plato and Aristotle through to the present day. In this module we go deeply into those five themes, in the company of some of the giants of the modern period in philosophy - Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill and Marx - as well as some outstanding contemporary authors.

  • PINM13 Values and Society

    These seminars in value theory and practical philosophy are specially designed to cultivate the research, speaking and writing skills that are requisite for a career in the philosophy profession as well as supportive of an informed, reflective and thoughtful approach to life. They also help prepare students for their dissertation and viva. The student¿s summative work can be on a topic of their choice from a wide selection offered at the start of each term by the module leader.

  • POND01 Dissertation

    A dissertation is intended to enable a student to deepen their understanding of a particular area of Global Politics. It gives students the opportunity to choose a topic independently, and work with a supervisor to produce a work of academic research of approximately 15,000 words in length. The dissertation prepares the student for independent research and further postgraduate study, such as at doctoral level. Dissertations can take a wide variety of forms. Students can opt for an empirical, theoretical, case study, or comparative study approach, among others. Approaches are agreed between supervisors and students in the early stages of the dissertation process. In order to be acceptable, the dissertation must be deemed to be a politics topic and written in a style appropriate to a piece of academic work in Politics and International Relations. This module is a compulsory element of the Masters programme.

  • PONM01 Global Politics I - Theories , Concepts and Processes

    This module is designed to introduce students to the key processes, concepts, theories, approaches and debates relevant to the study of global politics and global citizenship. Central to the module is the tension in the study of global politics and international relations between frameworks emphasizing the endurance of Westphalian order and those stressing the arrival of a post-Westphalian, post-national order based on transnational institutions, laws and norms. The study of the `global¿ is then focused on the extent to which power, authority and political participation at higher and lower levels are increasingly fragmented into poly-centric, trans-national or trans-local spheres and/or coalescing into forms of worldwide cooperation and cosmopolitan belonging. The module focuses on the implications of these perspectives and of critical approaches for our understanding of sovereignty, governance, political community, identity, justice, democracy and security. This core module serves as an essential theoretical and conceptual foundation to be applied to the empirical and research themes of the second core module (Global Politics II), as well as disciplinary, theoretical and conceptual orientation to students in the preparation of their Global Politics dissertations.

  • PONM02 Global Politics II - Issue Areas

    This module applies the theoretical and conceptual tools studied in Global Politics I to empirically focused issue areas in the fields of global organisation, global political economy, security, conflict and communications. Key to the module is to engage the power, character, extent, quality and range of agents and institutions involved in global political dynamics and in evolving policy frameworks for solidarity, governance, regulation and intervention across these diverse issue areas. In this way, the module not only focuses on the global nature of processes, institutions, actors and practices but also explores the social extent and depth of mobilisation, inclusion, participation and accountability present in dynamics of global organization. This provides significant emphasis on the key programme themes of global citizenship, democracy and justice, highlighting the way in which the expansion of citizenship is related to the global and social extent and intensity of participation and mobilisation around these issues. The module also continues to explore how these themes are understood by the different approaches introduced in Global Politics I, but also engages a range of sources utilizing different research methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative approaches, discourse analysis, process tracing and historical institutional frameworks. The study of these frameworks will become a key pedagogic focus in the weekly seminars. In this way the module continues to examine issues of contemporary global politics relevant to the field of global citizenship at a more empirical level but also provides a key platform for students to understand the complex and varied nature of global politics research frameworks and how to select and utilize these in the preparation and writing of their Global Politics dissertations.

  • PONM03 Nations and Nationalism

    This module addresses the impact of nations and nationalism on the conduct of global politics in the modern era. Students will cover both theoretical concerns and practical case studies of nationalist movements across the world. They will consider the competing accounts advanced by scholars to explain the rise of nationhood as a cultural and political signifier, as well as the rival concerns of ethnicity and citizenship for state institutions. They will examine the distinctive features of nationalism as a political and economic ideology, and its connections to major ideological traditions such as liberalism, socialism, and fascism. They will also evaluate the prospects for nationhood in a globalising world, addressing questions of economic interconnection, de-territorialisation, and cultural pluralisation. Students will then apply their theoretical knowledge to consider different historical and comparative trends in the development of nationalism in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

  • PONM04 Research Methods

    This module is aimed at developing the student¿s ability in researching and writing up a high quality dissertation (Dissertation module, 60 credits). The module focuses on research methods. Students will engage in specific research problems as part of it.

  • PONM05 Security Issues in Global Politics

    This module will further familiarise students with the study of security and stability as concepts within International Relations, Comparative Politics and Political Thought. The module will focus on security as a concept that goes beyond the mere balance of power within the international arena. Security in this module will be understood as a broad concept that relates not only to the armed forces and armed conflicts (i.e. how countries use war to achieve security), but also with issues such as minority rights, terrorism, migration, poverty, climate change, disease, organised crime and other international social problems, thus reflecting the focal engagement of the programme with global citizenship. Besides analysing key issues that pertain to security in international relations, this module will also analyse what security means at an individual level, how the issue is resolved and how concepts such as the ¿national interest¿ shape modern democracies. In short, security will not be understood solely as a concern pertaining to states, but also as a core value and an individual right.

  • PONM06 The European Union - A Model for Regionalism

    This module focuses on the politics and policies of the European Union (EU), as well as on its key propositions as a model for regional cooperation within international society. The complexity of policy decision-making affected by the structure of the EU institutional processes will be analysed in considerable depth. Rigorous discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of the EU as a regional supranational authority, in theory and in practice, are integral to the study of this module. The tensions that arise at member state level out of the move towards supranational constitutionalism of the EU are especially relevant to our times and this module will provide students with an intimate knowledge of these discussions. As a model for democratization, the EU will be analysed in the context of ASEM, deliberating to what extent inter-regional social learning in response to global citizenship occurs over time between these vastly differing propositions for regionalism, the EU and ASEAN, in their joint bilateral institutional setting.

  • PONM07 Universal Man: Global Citizenship in Western Political Though 1750-1850

    Most cosmopolitan theorists reject the idea of world government for a variety of intellectual, political, and practical reasons (Parekh 2003; Miller 2010; Tomhave 2013). This raises a series of questions: what, exactly, does it mean to be a global citizen? Is it even meaningful to talk about global politics across disparate polities, geographies, and identities? Or can we account for, and at the same time transcend, such differences? In a series of six seminars we will begin to examine these questions historically by tracing their development in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe, a period in which sustained thought was given to ideas of cosmopolitanism and global citizenship. Thinkers whom we will study include Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Auguste Comte (1798-1857), Henry Buckle (1821-1862), and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). The seminars are arranged around three themes ¿ citizenship, human nature, and rights ¿ which together help to provide tentative answers to the fundamental questions set out above. The module draws on a range of primary and secondary texts and asks its participants to think reflectively about the uses of political thought for contemporary theorising, as well as the methodological issues that surround hermeneutic enterprises of this kind. For example, can we achieve cosmopolitan ideals without a cosmopolitan history of political thought? In this way the module acts as a valuable supplement to the empirical disciplines of political science and international relations, by which issues of global politics are usually defined.


  • Alien Invasion: Attitudes to Immigration in England under the reign of Henry VIII (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Deborah Youngs
  • On Art Changing Life: Richard Glynn Vivian (1835-1910), His Diaries, Travels and Collection.«br /» (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Sarah May May
  • Calculating Value: Using and Collecting the Tools of Early Modern Mathematics (awarded 2019)

    Other supervisor: Prof David Turner

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Director of Postgraduate Research Students - Department of History

    2016 - Present

  • Taught Masters Programme Director (History) - Department of History & Classics

    2013 - 2015