University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Science, Technology and Innovation Studies

Undergraduate Course: Science and Society 1b: Nature and Environment (STIS08003)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course considers the ways that science and technology shape the relationship between humans and the environment. We will examine a number of topical historical and contemporary cases and in the process reflect on the role played by science and technology in how societies understand nature and environment. Themes to be dealt with include: science and cultural uses of natural resources; sociology of climate science; science, technology and international development; science and public understandings of environmental debates; science, knowledge and power; environmentalism. We will approach these themes by studying various environmental topics, often reflecting current events.
Course description Academic Description
This course considers the ways that science and technology shape the relationship between humans and the environment. In this course we introduce students to theories and tools that will enable them to map and understand the causes and features of debates concerning nature and environment. This course offers perspectives from the history and sociology of science that examine scientific knowledge as a social construction. Using these theories and perspectives, students will achieve a deeper appreciation of how scientific knowledge about the environment is made and how that knowledge contributes to political and regulatory processes. We will also explore how non-scientific ideas about the environment influence and come into contention with more ¿scientific¿ understandings.

Outline Content
The course generally follows a scheme where first half introducing theory and the second half apply these intellectual tools in a variety of situations.
1. Introduction: studying science and society.
2. How to think about science: sociology of scientific knowledge
3. ¿Unpacking¿ landscape, wilderness and conservation
4. Social worlds and the boundaries of science and society
5. Situating life on Earth: nature, science and religious belief
6. Science and environmental issues I
7. Science and environmental issues II
8. Science and environmental issues III
9. The geographies and geopolitics of science: case study of Antarctica.
10. The rise of public engagement and course wrap-up

Student Learning Experience
The course is taught through two lecture and one tutorial per week. Students are also assigned readings, podcasts and videos linked to the week¿s theme. The lectures and readings complement one another, with the reading provided more specific detail. Tutorials are largely organised around discussions and activities concerning the content of the lectures and readings from the week before.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Available to all first and second year students
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessed by a short written assessment (30%) approx. midway through the course, and a long 2,000 word essay (60%), submitted via ELMA to a deadline date. Tutorial participation counts for 10% of the final grade. In order to pass the course, the long essay must be passed
Feedback The first essay takes the form of a project in which the student will explore the ways that scientific knowledge moves through online, print and broadcast media. It will provides a first attempt at using the ideas of the course to examine the interaction of science and society ¿in real time¿. The feedback from this essay will provide advice on how essay structure and writing can be improved. Students will be given further advice in tutorial.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe the role played by science and technology in a number of important social and political arenas, particularly those related to issues of nature and the environment.
  2. Critcally evaluate a variety of theoretical standpoints that address the above socio-scientific issues.
  3. Describe the position of science and technology as a part of wider society, and account for some of the decisions made by scientists and politicians based on these social factors.
  4. Analyse science as a social institution and how this institution shapes public debates about the environment.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lawrence Dritsas
Tel: (0131 6)50 4011
Course secretaryMr Alexander Dysart
Tel: (0131 6)51 5197
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information