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DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2015/2016

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Science Studies Unit

Undergraduate Course: Controversies in Medicine, Technology and the Environment (SCSU10004)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe increasing societal application of scientific and technological knowledge, rather than resolving decision-making in complex domains has often been associated with fierce public controversy. Competing claims by different specialist groups and diverging stakeholder perspectives seem to frustrate attempts to create consensus. How can we understand such controversies? How can society reach effective and democratic decisions in contested and uncertain domains? Focusing on controversies in science and technology particularly publicly visible controversies this course introduces theoretical approaches and concepts for conducting state-of-the-art research and critical thinking in this field. Example topics to be covered include: nuclear power, human stem cells, food security, climate change, biomedical knowledge, genetically modified crops, synthetic biology.
Course description The increasing societal application of scientific and technological knowledge, rather than resolving decision-making in complex domains has often been associated with fierce public controversy. Competing claims by different specialist groups and diverging stakeholder perspectives seem to frustrate attempts to create consensus. How can we understand such controversies? How can society reach effective and democratic decisions in contested and uncertain domains? Focusing on controversies in science and technology particularly publicly visible controversies this course introduces theoretical approaches and concepts for conducting state-of-the-art research and critical thinking in this field.

The course aims to:
introduce students to important social perspectives for understanding publicly visible controversies in science and technology
enable students to engage critically with different theoretical and analytical frameworks for studying controversies.
enable students to explore controversies in the context of public engagement and policy making.

Example topics to be covered include: nuclear power, human stem cells,
food security, climate change, biomedical knowledge, genetically modified crops, synthetic biology.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesNone
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
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 based on:
- a 1000 word blogpost identifying and critically commenting on a topical public controversy in any area of medicine, technology or environment (25% marks)
- a 3500 word essay on a topic to be agreed between the student and the course convener on a controversial area of science, technology and/or medicine (75% marks)
Feedback The formative assessment will consist of the blog post (see below). This will also contribute to the final grade, but It will be submitted mid-semester and will provide the basis for feedback.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have a critical understanding of the principal theories and concepts used to analyse controversies
  2. Have detailed knowledge and understanding of one controversy in science and technology
  3. Demonstrate ability to use one of the frameworks/conceptual approaches to a specific case study
  4. Show ability to critically review and consolidate knowledge in one controversy in science and technology
  5. Demonstrate ability to convey the above to an informed audience
Reading List
None
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsControversies; Science,Technology and Medicine; Policy; Public engagement
Contacts
Course organiserDr Sarah Parry
Tel: (0131 6)50 6395
Email: Sarah.Parry@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMr Alexander Dysart
Tel: (0131 6)51 5197
Email: v1adysar@exseed.ed.ac.uk
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