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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Science, Technology and Innovation Studies

Undergraduate Course: Data, Design and the City (STIS08006)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryToday's cities produce an immense amount of data - just think of open government data, urban sensors, smart homes, and self-quantification. A new partnership between the City and the University, the Edinburgh Living Lab, is providing the opportunity for public, non-profit, business and university sectors to harness this data and participative tools to tackle complex socio-technical issues of modern life. This partnership also offers the chance for students to learn and contribute to this endeavor, while strengthening their interdisciplinary skills and employability. This learning-by-developing course focuses on developing techniques in participatory design for the generation, use and impact of data as social and scientific evidence. You will gain foundational concepts and tools for data collection, interpretation, and ethical analysis. You will then take part in a collaborative, interdisciplinary project around a "wicked problem," identified in partnership with organisations in the University, the City or the region. Teams will develop a prototype intervention, test and evaluate this with potential users, and finally present the results to the problem holder. Previous courses have explored the themes of Active Travel; Walking in the City Centre; Waste in the City; and The University Food Strategy.
Course description 1. Academic description
This course focuses on developing basic skills in participatory design in the generation, use and impact of data as social and scientific evidence. This course will provide foundational concepts and tools for data collection, interpretation, and ethical analysis. Responding to a challenge identified by the external course partners, student teams will then use these cross-disciplinary, data-based practices to prototype and test a design intervention. The course will give students the opportunity to take their learning out of the classroom into the city with the goal of shaping a better society.

2. Outline content
The course begins with an overview of the city- or university-initiated problem, research ethics, and methods of data reuse and data gathering through, for example, fieldwork, sensors and focus group surveys. The course then introduces students to data management, participatory design, and data visualization. Team work is supported by mentors, and the course ends with team presentations of prototype design interventions.

3. Student learning experience
The course is based on ideas of "Learning by Developing", a type of pedagogy that combines modern tools for data analysis with design-based approaches. Also called Experiential learning, this approach involves teams of students who collect a variety of types of data to better understand an issue, engage with a "real-life" problem holder, develop a prototype intervention, test and evaluate this in a participative manner with potential users, and present the results to the problem holder, such as a City of Edinburgh agency. This course is intended to make learning more engaging, strengthen employability skills, build confidence, and bring students in to contact with real world problems. It encourages students to develop innovative ideas and communicate them effectively in different social arenas.

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:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 75 %, Practical Exam 25 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessed Assignments
1. Group Oral Presentation - 10-15mins including visualisation, prototypes, presentation of data sets. (25%)
2. An individual 1500-2500 word essay, reflecting on the group project, with a focus decided in consultation with the course team. (75%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate discerning understanding of the cultural role that data and evidence plays in society based in reading relevant literature from Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies.
  2. Clearly show knowledge and understanding of the ethical dimensions that arise from data collection and use.
  3. Use a range of approaches for data collection (machine sourced, subjective, quantitative and qualitative surveys, public records, open data, etc) for proposing evidence-based solutions.
  4. Demonstrate understanding and awareness of various visualisation techniques and how they can form evidence useful for communicating ideas.
  5. Understand how to work alongside other students by using the basic practices of participative design, especially in an urban context, towards a group-based project.
Reading List
All material is provided through the course website.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. How to plan and implement, evaluate and document a prototype 'intervention' in an urban context, relative to the interests and needs of a specified community of stakeholders.
2. Understanding of a range of terminology and concepts about the range of types and uses of contemporary data sources.
3. Analysing evidence and using this to develop and support a line of argument.
4. Communicating different types of information, using appropriate analytic and presentation techniques, both visually and orally.
5. Understanding how their own knowledge contributes to collaborative work in a multi-disciplinary team, and the value of the contribution and perspective of team mates
6. Interacting in a professional manner with stakeholders and the public.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr James Stewart
Tel: (0131 6)50 6392
Course secretaryMr James Heitler
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