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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Advanced Theory in Science and Technology Studies (PGSP11371)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course gives postgraduate students the opportunity to pursue a more sophisticated understanding of key theoretical perspectives in science and technology studies (STS). Focusing on a wide range of thinkers and writings, Advanced Theory in STS challenges students to master the details of theoretical tools central to STS, and to consider ways of taking that theory in new, innovative directions.

Broadly, Advanced Theory in STS is designed for students interested in unpacking some of the ideas and arguments that underlie STS's understanding of science and technology. It is also of benefit to students who hope to further hone their critical thinking skills and expand their range of theoretical tools. Although focused on theory, the class also examines how theory and empirical research work collaboratively. Thus the class is also of relevance to those who hope to produce sophisticated, empirically-grounded research.

This course can be taken as a standalone by students outside of STIS, but it is designed to examine ideas introduced in semester one courses in greater detail. As such, attendance of 'Science, Knowledge and Expertise' and 'Understanding Technology' is recommended (but not required).
Course description This course gives postgraduate students the opportunity to pursue an in-depth understanding of key theories and concepts in STS, such as Edinburgh`s Strong Programme in the sociology of knowledge, Actor-Network Theory (ANT), Social Construction of Technology (SCOT), Scientific/Intellectual Movements (SIMS), innovation systems and transitions theory, the sociology of expectations, social worlds theory, infrastructure and platform studies, cyborg and multi-species theory, Feminist and Black STS, etc. We will pay attention to the multi-disciplinary history of STS, the ways in which theories and concept have emerged and changed over time, and how theory development interacts with current issues in STS and society more broadly. For instance, how does STS thinking about governance of science and technology incorporate ideas about democracy, diversity and equity? How are current environmental crises influencing work in STS? We also put theory to work, thinking about how we might use conceptual tools when collecting, analysing and presenting our data. Finally, we consider normative aspects of our work and possibilities for intervention, for instance through policy advice, public engagement or activism.

Please note that this is not a survey course that discusses all theories mentioned above. The central theme of the course and the theories covered vary each year, depending on the expertise of the course organiser, STIS colleagues and visitors participating in the course (please contact the course organiser for more information on this years theme). As such the course gives detailed insight into how academics work with specific theories and concepts to prepare and guide you to do the same in the course essay and the final MSc. dissertation
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, 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 on the basis of a Presentation (40%) and a Final Essay (60%)
Feedback Assessment is on the basis of a 3,500-4,500 word essay on a topic to be agreed between the student and the course organiser. Students can and should contact the organiser to discuss potential assessment topics at the earliest opportunity.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. have a comprehensive understanding of a selection of key theories and concepts in STS
  2. be able to place theories and concepts in context, understanding how they emerge, interact and change over time
  3. be competent in discussing theories and concepts, including their benefits and limitations
  4. be able to relate theories and concepts to empirical material and case studies
  5. have developed their abilities to convey complex ideas through written and oral means (particularly through weekly written responses, seminar discussions, and essay-writing)
Reading List
Indicative readings:

Akera, A. (2007). Constructing a representation for an ecology of knowledge: Methodological advances in the integration of knowledge and its various contexts. Social studies of science, 37(3), 413-441.

Barnes, B. (1983). "Social life as bootstrapped induction." Sociology, 17(4): 524-545. Bloor, D. (1976). Knowledge and Social Imagery. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Mads Borup, Nik Brown, Kornelia Konrad & Harro Van Lente (2006) The sociology of expectations in science and technology, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 18:3-4, 285-298,

Felt, U., Fouch├ę, R., Miller, C. A., Smith┬┐doerr, L. & J. Law. (2016). The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, fourth edition, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Frickel, S. & N. Gross (2005). "A General Theory of Scientific/Intellectual Movements." American Sociological Review, 70 (2) 204-32. JSTOR,

Geels, F.W., (2002), "Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: A multi-level perspective and a case-study", Research Policy, 31(8/9), 1257-1274

Haraway, D. (1991). "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century". In: Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London: Routledge.

Kirksey, S. And Helmreich, S., 2010. The Emergence Of Multispecies Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology, 25(4), 545-576.

Latour, B. (1992). "One more turn after the social turn..." In E. McMullin (Ed.), The Social Dimension of Science (pp. 272-294). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

Mol, A. (2008). The Logic of Care: Health and the Problem of Patient Choice. London: Routledge.

Pandey, P., G. Valkenburg, A. Mamidipudi, and W. Bijker. (2020) "Responsible Research and Innovation in the Global South: Agriculture, Renewable Energy and the Pursuit of Symmetry - a Special Issue." Science, Technology and Society, 25 (2) 213-356.

Sugimoto, C & V. Lariviere (2023). Equity for Women in Science. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

TallBear, Kim. "Beyond the Life/Not Life Binary: A Feminist-Indigenous Reading of Cryopreservation, Interspecies Thinking and the New Materialisms." In Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal, eds., Cryopolitics. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills On completion of this course, the student will also have gained or further developed the following:

1. Generic cognitive skills. This course aims to develop students' abilities to comprehend complex ideas, evaluate them, critically analyse them and then make use of them. All of these skills contribute to students' capacity for critical thinking.

2. Autonomy and collaboration. This course relies heavily on discussion sessions, developing individual abilities to produce analyses, present arguments and defend claims. Students are asked to present their perspectives on ideas from the course and the course also uses group-based learning with students working together to explore and apply theories. This allows students to develop skills in collaboration and the ability to analyse and learn from those collaborative efforts.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Niki Vermeulen
Tel: (0131 6)51 7112
Course secretaryMrs Beth Richardson-Mills
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659
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