Science and Society

Subject 136-216 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Two 1-hour lectures and a 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment: 3 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 8.5 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Usually 75 points of first year study across any discipline areas.
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 Rosemary Anne Robins


Dr Gerhard Wiesenfeldt

Subject Overview: The central focus of this subject is the relationship between science and society in our contemporary world. Science and its products are integral to our every day lives providing benefits but also risks and ethical dilemas. Understanding the relationship between science and society has never been more crucial. What counts as valid of factual knowledge? Are scientists objective? Are values part of science and if so is this a problem? Does science determine society or does society shape science? What is the relationship between science and ethics? Such questions have been addressed in different ways by sociologists of science and in this subject we will examine several of these using illustrative examples taken from the physical , biological and medical sciences. This subject offers students an introduction to theoretical and conceptual ways of thinking about the relationship between science and society that will be useful in approaching the many and often difficult questions tht are raised by sciene and its products in our contemporary world.
Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject should
  • Develop a basic understanding of key theoretical approaches to science as a system of knowledge and practice that have been developed in the field of science and technology studies.
  • Be able to apply these theoretical approaches to the analysis of historical and contemporary case-studies.
  • Develop the capacity for critical analysis of theoretical approach to science as a system of knowledge and practice and the appropriateness of their application to historical and contemporary case-studies.
Assessment: Written work totalling 4000 words comprising a 1500 word tutorial paper 30% due mid-semester and a 2500 word essay 60% (due at the end of semester), class participation and contribution 10%. A hurdle requirement of attendance at eight tutorials is applicable.
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available from the Bookshop.
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
Generic Skills: Students who successfully complete this subject should
  • Develop skills in written and oral communication
  • Conduct independent research
  • Form defensible judgements on the basis of critical evaluation of conflicting arguments.
  • Understand and analyse key conceptual and theoretical arguments
  • Develop their own argument based on empirical evidence
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History & Philosophy of Science
History && Philosophy of Science Major
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
Sociology Major

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