Science and Society

Subject HPSC30023 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 35 hours - 2 x1 hour lectures each week and 1 x 1-hour tutorial for 11 weeks
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Darrin Durant



Subject Overview:

Science provides innumerable benefits in our lives but poses just as many urgent questions. The aim of this subject is to explore the role of science in our society by drawing on recent scholarly work in sociology and philosophy of science. The first part of the course will introduce several conceptions of scientific knowledge, and of the role of scientists and their knowledge in society. The second part of the course will apply these intellectual tools to some of the pressing questions about contemporary science. What is the relationship between science, technology and the market? To what extend should science be directed by values? What role do or should scientists play in policy decisions? What role should ‘the public’ play in setting research priorities? What is a scientific expert? Why do we disagree about climate change? Has science shown that race is a social construct?

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • develop a basic understanding of key theoretical approaches to science as a system of knowledge and its place in contemporary society that have been developed in the humanities and social sciences;
  • be able to apply these theoretical approaches to the analysis of contemporary or historical case-studies;
  • demonstrate an understanding of different images of 'good science' and different accounts of what role values and politics should play in decision-making about social issues involving technical knowledge.
  • An essay of 1,500 words due during semester (40%)
  • A take home exam with the requirement to answer two further essay questions, due in the end of semester examination period (60%)

Hurdle Requirements:

  • Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five working days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:

Why we disagree about climate change. Mike Hulme, Cambridge University Press 2009.

Further texts will be available online.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Graduate Certificate in Arts - History and Philosophy of Science
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Social Theory
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Sociology
Graduate Diploma in Arts - History and Philosophy of Science
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Sociology
History and Philosophy of Science
Social Theory
Related Breadth Track(s): Science, Technology and Society
Science and its Margins

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