Undergraduate Course: Knowledge, Expertise and Policy (STIS10010)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||In the contemporary world, scientific expertise is increasingly central to policy making (over climate change, stem-cell regulation, synthetic biology, "big data" and robotics, for example). This course aims to allow students to understand how experts relate to political power and policy-making in contemporary societies. It bridges political science and STS (science & technology studies) by using case studies to investigate how science and policy are linked (or fail to connect) in such areas as climate policy, life sciences innovations and policies towards the regulation of "recreational" drugs.
This course brings together academics and literature from different subject areas (Political Science and Science and Technology Studies, as well as Social Policy and Sociology) to give students an innovative analysis of expertise, science and politics in contemporary governance. Such courses are rare in the UK though the topics covered are of undoubted societal significance.
The course will be organised in blocks:
1. Expertise in contemporary society: this will focus on the nature of expertise and on 'science for policy' (how research feeds into policy making).
2. The character of public controversies over scientific and technical topics (with case studies of BSE and climate change)
3. Public participation in science and technology and the civic dimensions of scientific citizenship. This will also encompass normative aspects relating to democratic theory.
4. The globalisation of science and technology governance, looking at regulation, harmonisation, the WTO and other international scientific bodies (such as IPBES).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Assessment will be based on two components: 35% for an analytical essay on topic in the social scientific analysis of expertise and governance; 65% for a longer, case-study essay on a policy theme.
||Both essays will be returned with feedback and moderated within 15 working days of submission.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Develop a critical understanding of the main areas of study linked to the character and policy-uses of expertise.
- Engage critically with the work of STS (science and technology studies) and Political Science scholars on expertise and governance, and evaluate their arguments
- Assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current complex issues in the governance of emerging, innovative technologies.
- Develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form -- coherent, balanced arguments surrounding the social and political roles of experts.
- Use a range of research skills to plan and execute an original essay focusing on a case-study relating to expertise, policy and governance.
|1. Sheila Jasanoff Science and Public Reason London: Routledge 2012|
2. Scott Frickel & Kelly Moore (eds) The New Political Sociology of Science: Institutions, Networks, and Power Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press 2006
3. Richard Freeman & Steve Sturdy (eds) Knowledge in Policy: Embodied, Inscribed, Enacted Cambridge: Polity 2015
4. Christina Boswell The Political Uses of Expert Knowledge: Immigration Policy and Social Research Cambridge: CUP 2012
5. Steven Yearley Making Sense of Science London: Sage 2005
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Eugenia Rodrigues
Tel: (0131 6)51 4751
|Course secretary||Mr Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 4001