Dr Michael A. Finn

Dr Michael A. Finn


I joined the School as Lecturer in History of Science at the start of the 2013/14 academic year, and from June 2014 took over as Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology & Medicine.

Prior to this, I gained a BA (2006) in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge before completing my MA (2008) and PhD (2012) in the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at Leeds. I completed my thesis on the subject of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum and the development of the neurosciences in the late nineteenth century, and have since worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the LAHRI and Assistant Curator at University of Aberdeen Museums.


  • Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Research interests

My research generally focuses on the sciences of mind and brain from the eighteenth century to the present, with particular emphasis on the relationship between psychiatry and neurology, and the role of asylums and other institutions in the development of scientific medicine. I’m also interested in the history of self-help, the relationship between psychological sciences and advertising, and the role of education in mental health. 

I'd be delighted to hear from anyone wanting to talk about research in those areas, or anything to do with the museum.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

In addition to leading undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, I also lead several undergraduate and postgraduate teaching modules across the School of PRHS, all involving the history of science, medicine and psychology. 

PhD Student Supervision

  • Kellie Vernon, ‘“Manly Nerves” - Men and Mental Health in Heroic Age Antarctica’ (2021–Present; jointly supervised with Jamie Stark)
  • Polina Merkulova, ‘Pedagogy and the Building of British Psychiatry, 1870–1930’ (2017–Present; jointly supervised with Jon Topham)
  • Mary Chapman, ‘Writing Women's Madness: Literature and the Development of Gendered Psycho-Medical Theory, 1845–1914’ (2016–Present; jointly supervised with Jim Mussell)
  • Kevin Jones, ‘The ‘Table of the Forms of Insanity’: The history of the psychiatric nosology of the Medico-Psychological Assocaition of the United Kingdom and the British Isles’ (2020 award; jointly supervised with Adrian Wilson).
  • Gonzalo Tavalera, ‘Max Isserlin (1879–1941) and the possibilities for psychiatry in Imperial and Weimar Germany’ (2020 award; jointly supervised with Greg Radick)
  • Laura Sellers, 'Managing Convicts, Understanding Criminals: Medicine and the Development of the English Convict Prison 1837–1886' (2017 award; jointly supervised with Jon Topham).

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for History and Philosophy of Science
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>