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

Postgraduate Course: Philosophy and Engineering (MSc) (PGEE11205)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Engineering CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course is an integral, core part of the Leading Major Programmes MSc and will complement the other courses that focus on programme delivery. It starts with the concept that successful programmes require capable and effective leaders.

What we think hugely influences what we do, and in turn, how we think influences what we think. These concepts of what and how we think are central to the subject of philosophy. The relevance to Engineering and to Major Programme Leaders is that they must 'think well' if they are to act well in their leadership; they should also create a climate of thinking in and around the programme. A deeper understanding of thought and thinking is beneficial to the goals of successful major programmes.
Course description This course explores:
- What are great outcomes (short & longer term, and from whose perspective)?
- Who are the stakeholders and how might the programme leader engage them?
- What types of thinking should be encouraged? What might a 'thought eco-system' look like? And what are the roles of diversity of thought, and seemingly contrary and negative thinking?
- Are there 'wrong' ways of thinking? What do we think about embedded cultural norms, prejudice, cognitive bias and shallow reasoning?
- How much should leaders seek certainty and set aside dilemmas, and how much uncertainty is it right to present to the world?
- What ways of thinking, or 'thought tools', can we identify, that successful leaders have found useful?

The course invites participants to learn from the history of thought and thinking, and to:
- Learn what the body of knowledge is and what they can draw from it
- Sample the intellectual space of those who have studied philosophy (as many politicians, strategists and commentators have)
- See how different cultures may be appreciated by considering their different perspectives on shared subjects
- Review and challenge some recent philosophical thinking in the area of the Philosophy of Engineering.

Students will develop a personalised viewpoint on some key issues that will help them in their leadership of major programmes:
- 'What is a major programme?' leads to what is needed to do 'major programmes better'
The relationship of engineering and major programmes (engineering will be taken in the broadest sense, and the point made that the philosophy of engineering can be drawn from, even if the project is not 'an engineering project in the narrow sense'
- Why 'what and how you think' determines 'how you act', to give a basis for leaders to challenge themselves and guide others
- Certainty and uncertainty, and the risk of acting on the assumption of certainty when matters are uncertain, and conversely when certainty could be usefully assumed
- What philosophy and philosophers can bring to major programmes, giving access to a new resource for leaders, within themselves, in the literature and from the wider community

Course structure
In common with the wider MSc in Leading Major Programmes, the course will be delivered in a single semester, with six half-day engagements gathered in three one-day blocks.

Each half-day will be structured as follows:
- Pre-reading
- Introducing an important philosophical tradition or concept
- Quick overview of the ideas in the area, with a focus on one or two important philosophers
- Relating this to some of the challenges of a programme leader (discussion)

The three days will address topics:
1. Knowledge, experience and reality
2. Identity, values and the engineering profession
3. Ethics and leadership in action.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have an awareness of a number of traditional philosophical subjects and theoretical frames (including but not limited to philosophy of engineering, ethics, existentialism);
  2. Have an ability to reflect on practical scenarios and situations, mobilising appropriate philosophical lenses to unpack them meaningfully;
  3. Have an ability to relate the above to major programme leadership;
  4. Synthesise the value of philosophy to major programmes, the ability to plan thinking and reflection for programme benefit, and what introducing philosophers and philosophy to the team could add.
Reading List
Completion of this course will require extensive reading and each day's topic will have its own digest of pre-reading. Micheldelder and Doorn (2021) will be used as the core text, with additional suggested reading:

- Michelfelder and Doorn (2021); The Routledge Handbook to the Philosophy of Engineering
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsProgramme Management,Project Management,Engineering,Philosophy
Course organiserDr Simon Smith
Tel: (0131 6)50 7159
Course secretaryMiss Margaret Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 5565
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