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DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2016/2017

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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Engineering : Postgrad (School of Engineering)

Postgraduate Course: Fire Safety, Engineering & Society (IMFSE) (PGEE11159)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Engineering CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits18 ECTS Credits9
SummaryAlthough engineering provides rigorous tools for addressing complex societal goals,
there is little formal teaching with regard to the way these goals are understood.
This course will fill this gap by providing students with a range of conceptual tools
(illustrated with examples from many fields of engineering and technological
development) geared towards understanding the ways that social factors influence
engineering (especially fire safety engineering) practice.
In addition, the understandable tendency in engineering to quantification and
calculation can obscure the central roles of choice and judgement in engineering
practice. This course will therefore also address the ways that the knowledge
claims used in engineering are socially constructed, and why this matters for
engineering outcomes.
Course description The teaching of engineering at the UoE, as elsewhere, tends to emphasise the
application of scientific principles at the expense of broader social aspects of
engineering knowledge and practice. Although engineering provides rigorous tools
for addressing complex societal goals, there is little formal teaching with regard to
the way these goals are understood. This course will fill this gap by providing
students with a range of conceptual tools (illustrated with examples from many
fields of engineering and technological development) geared towards
understanding the ways that social factors influence engineering (especially fire
safety engineering) practice. In addition, the understandable tendency in
engineering to quantification and calculation can obscure the central roles of
choice and judgement in engineering practice. This course will therefore also
address the ways that the knowledge claims used in engineering are socially
constructed and organisationally mediated, and why this matters for engineering
outcomes.

The course has two main aims. First, to provide a more comprehensive
understanding of the social context of fire safety engineering with regard to issues
such as the socioeconomic factors that contribute to fire risk and its understanding
and the history and rationale of regulatory practices. Second, to stimulate the
students to interrogate and debate taken-for-granted aspects of engineering
practice, and thus to be more reflexive about the basis of the claims generated and
used in fire safety engineering.

The course will be structured as follows:
1. Introduction. Set out broad principles and methods of sociology of
knowledge approach and why it is central to understanding both the effects of
fire, and fire safety science and engineering practice.
2. History of major disasters and effects on regulation and practice.
3. Epidemiology and statistics. Socioeconomic causes of fire outcomes.
4. Development of regulation in 20th century. Emergence of life safety (vs
property) and role of public and private institutions.
5. Testing. Standard fire testing and its implications for knowledge and practice.
6. Evidence and Governance: Sprinklers and smoke alarms
7. Limits of building control. Why people, practice, and social organisation
matter. Example of fire in informal settlements.
8. Performance Based Design. The significance of ┐expertise asymmetry┐ in
regulation, and the role of professionalisation.
9. Judgment and Risk. Quantification, optimisation, and spurious precision.
10. Guest lecture.
11. Summing up. Heterogeneous Engineering. The role of politics and
organisations.
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 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 180 ( Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 15, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 60, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 100 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework %: 100
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. Develop a critical understanding of the principal theories and concepts used to understand the way that engineering practice interacts with broader societal factors;
  2. Engage critically with relevant literature on risk and regulation;
  3. Develop the ability to use one of the frameworks/conceptual approaches to analyse a specific case study;
  4. 4 Assess competing claims and critically review the methods used to create fire safety knowledge;
  5. Demonstrate ability to convey the above to an informed audience.
Reading List
None
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsFire Safety,Engineering
Contacts
Course organiserDr Graham Spinardi
Tel: (0131 6)50 6394
Email: G.Spinardi@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMr Craig Hovell
Tel: (0131 6)51 7080
Email: c.hovell@ed.ac.uk
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