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

Undergraduate Course: Themes and Perspectives in the History of Science (STIS08011)

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
SummaryIntroductory survey of science in world history from ancient times to the present, focusing on the natural, social, and engineering sciences (in their broader intellectual, institutional, and technical contexts) in the modern West (in its broader geopolitical, social, and economic contexts). The course discusses the changing meanings and conditions of scientific knowledge, showing how such knowledge has depended upon and reshaped its historical contexts.

This course is marked on a pass-fail basis, meaning students will receive a 'pass' mark for meeting the learning outcomes rather than a numerical score for their assessment.

The course is otherwise the same as STIS08005 History of Science 1, which uses the conventional marking scale. We suggest students enrol in this version unless they require a conventional numerical mark.
Course description The course surveys science in world history from ancient times to the present, focusing on the natural, social, and engineering sciences in the modern West (including the pivotal history of science in Edinburgh) and their respective wider contexts while also interrogating the historical association between science and western modernity. We shall develop an approach to understanding scientific knowledge and authority as embedded in historically specific social, cultural, economic, and political settings. Asking what makes something scientific and how the historical sciences have interacted with their changing environs, we shall examine broad transformations in the ideas, institutions, status, apparatus, applications, and consequences of science, broadly construed to include aspects of engineering, mathematics, health, philosophy, theology, and other related subjects. These questions will be closely linked to the changing faces of science's practitioners, targets, and constituents, which we shall examine in terms of gender, class, race, religion, and cultural identity.

The course has an open-ended design that supports a wide variety of student backgrounds and learning goals, whether you are looking to broaden your horizons, explore unfamiliar subjects, dig deeply into topics of special interest, or develop new skills in historical and social interpretation. Students have recently come from more than a hundred degree programmes and nearly every area of the university.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking History of Science 1 (STIS08005)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students are very welcome in this course, no pre-requisites.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  88
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessed by a portfolio submission (100%) including a variety of assignments engaging with and integrating course materials and themes, as well as a self-evaluation. The maximum wordcount (not including self-evaluation and bibliography) is 3500, and most submissions are expected to be between 2000 and 3000 words in total.
Assessments will demonstrate student understanding of major themes and perspectives from the course as well as meaningful engagement with lectures and course readings. Submissions will be based on formative activities designed to support students' exploration of course themes and methods according to their goals and interests during the semester. We want students from every part of the university and every combination of backgrounds and goals to be able to succeed in this course.
Feedback There will be regular opportunities for formative feedback on coursework during the term, primarily via tutorials and tutorial groups. The course organiser will be available for further discussion and feedback during the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain major developments in the ideas, institutions, and products of science in world history.
  2. Apply contextual and comparative perspectives to scientific knowledge and practices from disparate times and places.
  3. Discuss how scientific knowledge and practices relate to their wider political, economic, social, and cultural contexts.
  4. Critically evaluate the use of historical evidence in historical argument.
Reading List
The course uses a dynamic reading list openly accessible through the university's resource list platform. Course textbooks include:
Morus, Oxford Illustrated History of Science
Fara, Science: A Four Thousand Year History
Reser and McNeill, Forces of Nature
Henry, A Short History of Scientific Thought
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Enquiry and lifelong learning; Outlook and engagement; Research and enquiry; Personal and intellectual autonomy.
Additional Class Delivery Information The course meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for a combination of lecture, discussion, and other activities, which will be recorded to the extent possible for those unable to attend. Optional small group tutorials are offered at a variety of times. The course is designed to be flexible, so we encourage you to sign up if interested, even if there are potential scheduling or logistical issues
KeywordsScience,Technology,Ancient,Classical,Medieval,Early Modern,Modern,Cross-Disciplinary,History
Course organiserDr Michael Barany
Tel: (0131 6)50 9096
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
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