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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Advanced Theory in Science and Technology Studies (PGSP11371)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course gives postgraduate students the opportunity to pursue a more sophisticated understanding of key theoretical perspectives in science and technology studies (STS). Focusing on a wide range of thinkers and writings, Advanced Theory in STS challenges students to master the details of vital STS theory, and to consider ways of taking that theory in new, innovative directions.

Broadly, Advanced Theory in STS is designed for students interested in unpacking the ideas and arguments that underlie STS's understanding of science and technology. It is also of benefit to students who hope to further hone their critical thinking skills and expand their range of theoretical tools. Although focused on theoretical topics, the class attempts to demonstrate how theory and empirical research work collaboratively. Thus the class is also of relevance to those who hope to produce sophisticated, empirically-grounded research.

This course can be taken as a standalone by students outside of STIS, but it is designed to examine ideas introduced in semester one courses in greater detail. As such, attendance of 'Science, Knowledge and Expertise' and 'Understanding Technology' is recommended (but not required).
Course description 1 Experience and underdetermination: Hume and Quine
2 The Strong Programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge
3 The Performative Theory of Social Institutions
4 Finitism
5 Actor-Network Theory
6 Subjectification
7 Objects and ontology
8 The Biography of Artefacts
9 Rethinking 'design'
10 Science, engineering and epistemic species
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  16
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be on the basis of a 4,000 word essay.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will have a comprehensive understanding of the Strong Programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge, including key concepts such as underdetermination, symmetry, and finitism. Students will also understand how Actor-Network Theory criticises these ideas and posits alternative theoretical tools.
  2. Students will comprehend the Performative Theory of Social Insitutions, and most importantly, Barry Barnes' notion of 'bootstrapped induction.
  3. Students will be competent in parallel theories of ontology and subjectivity, based on work by Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Ian Hacking. As part of this, students will understand how these ideas relate to the Performative Theory of Social Institutions.
  4. Students will consider theories and methodologies currently underemployed in science and technology studies but of possible use. These include historiography and certain varieties of ethics.
  5. Students will have developed their abilities to convey complex ideas through written and oral means (particularly through weekly written responses, seminar discussions, and essay-writting).
Reading List
Quine, W.V.O. (1975). "On empirically equivalent systems of the world." Erkenntnis, 9: 313-328.

Bloor, D. (1976). Knowledge and social imagery. Chicago: Chicago UP, Chapters 1 and 2 (pp. 3-45).

Barnes, B. (1983). "Social life as bootstrapped induction." Sociology, 17(4): 524-545.

Bloor, D. (1997b). Wittgenstein, rules and institutions. London: Routledge, Chapters 2 and 3 (pp. 9-42).

Latour, B. (1992). "One more turn after the social turn..." In E. McMullin (Ed.), The social dimension of science (pp. 272-294). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Schyfter, P. (2009). "The bootstrapped artefact: A collectivist account of technological ontology, functions, and normativity." Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 40: 102-111.

Foucault, M. (1982). "The subject and power." Critical Inquiry, 8(4): 777-795.

Hacking, I. (1999a). "Making up people." In M. Biagioli (Ed.), The science studies reader (pp. 161-171). London: Routledge.

Latour, B. (2009). "A cautious Prometheus? A few steps toward a philosophy of design (with special attention to Peter Sloterdijk)." In F. Hackney (Ed.), Networks of design (pp. 2-10). Boca Raton, FL: Universal.

Vincenti, W. (1990). What engineers know and how they know it. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, Chapter 5 (pp. 137-169).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Pablo Schyfter
Tel: (07880 874828)
Course secretaryMiss Kate Ferguson
Tel: (0131 6)51 5122
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