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

Undergraduate Course: Knowledge, Expertise and Policy (STIS10010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn 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 health and nutrition.
Course description 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)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a critical understanding of the main areas of study linked to the character and policy-uses of expertise.
  2. Engage critically with the work of STS (science and technology studies) and Political Science scholars on expertise and governance, and evaluate their arguments
  3. Assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current complex issues in the governance of emerging, innovative technologies.
  4. Develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form -- coherent, balanced arguments surrounding the social and political roles of experts.
  5. Use a range of research skills to plan and execute an original essay focusing on a case-study relating to expertise, policy and governance.
Reading List
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
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiser Course secretaryMr Ethan Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 4001
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