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Chemistry at Oxford: A History from 1600 to 2005 Editors: R J P Williams, John S Rowlinson, Allan Chapman

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This book contains 318 pages.

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06 Nov 2008
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About this book

This fascinating and unique history reveals the major influence of the Oxford Chemistry School on the advancement of chemistry. It shows how the nature of the University, and individuals within it, have shaped the school and made great achievements both in teaching and research. The book will appeal to those interested in the history of science and education, the city of Oxford and chemistry in general. Chemistry has been studied in Oxford for centuries but this book focuses on the last 400 years and, in particular, the seminal work of Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, and the proto- Royal Society of the 1650's. Arranged in chronological fashion, it includes specialist studies of particular areas of innovation. The book shows that chemistry has advanced, not just as a consequence of research but, because of the idiosynchratic nature of the collegiate system and the characters of the individuals involved. In other words, it demonstrates that science is a human endeavour and its advance in any institution is conditioned by the organization and people within it. For chemists, the main appeal will be the book's examination of the way separate branches of chemistry (organic, physical, inorganic and biological) have evolved in Oxford. It also enables comparison with the development of the subject at other universities such as Cambridge, London and Manchester. For historians and sociologists, the book reveals the motivations of both scientists and non-scientists in the management of the School. It exposes the unusual character of Oxford University and the tensions between science and administration. The desire of the college to retain its academic values in the face of external and financial pressures is emphasized.

Author information

Dr Allan Chapman is a member of the Faculty of Modern History at Oxford University. After earning a first class honours degree at Lancaster University, Dr Chapman went on to obtain a DPhil at Oxford before reaching MA status in 1983. He became the Royal Society Prize Lecturer in 1994 and the University of Central Lancashire awarded him an honorary Doctorate in 2004. Dr Chapman has written eight books and contributed approximately eighty papers to major academic journals. He has also been involved with TV and radio programmes on science history, including two major documentary series. He lectures extensively in the UK and abroad. J.S. Rowlinson was Dr Lee's Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University between 1974 and 1993. He is a fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Engineering and the Institute of Chemical Engineering. He is author or co-author of five books on physics, chemistry and engineering and four books on the history of science. R.J. P. Williams is Emeritus Professor at the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, University of Oxford. He started lecturering at Oxford in 1955 and became the Royal Society Research Professor in 1974. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has four honorary degrees in science and is fellow of four foreign academies.