Governing Science, Technology and Society in the 21st Century - SOCI9380

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 7 20 (10) Joy Y Zhang checkmark-circle


The course aims to develop an empirically grounded and theoretically engaged understanding of key debates in the contemporary governance of science and technology. It is interdisciplinary, bringing together perspectives from across the social sciences, science & engineering and the humanities to explore the social, political, economic and ethical implications of scientific progress. It takes on a global perspective and identifies key actors and processes in the normalization of scientific practice. Indicative topics include:

• From sociobiology to biosociality: Introduction to the social studies of science
• The captain and the steward: Changing relations of scientific and political authorities
• Global harmonization of national policies: Examples from life sciences and climate sciences
• Institutionalization of knowledge and non-knowing
• Bio-terror versus bio-error: Biosecurity after synthetic biology
• Bioethics and the domestication of technology
• The political economy of biopower
• ‘Communities of fate’: governmentality and biological citizenship
• Better-off when handicapped? Boundaries and fairness in human enhancement
• The art of representing science: The role of art and new media in scientific outreach
• The cosmopolitanization of science: Dependence and interdependence of world innovation


Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Coursework – essay (4000 words) – 80%
Coursework seminar presentation (10 minutes) -20%

1Reassessment methods
100% coursework

Indicative reading

David, M (2005) Science in Society. Palgrave
Drori G.S., Meyer J.W., Ramirez F.O. and Schofer E. (2003), Science in the Modern World Polity: Institutionalization and Globalization. Stanford University Press.
Fukuyama, F (2002) Our Posthuman Future. Picador
Jasanoff, S (2005) Designs on Nature. Science and Democracy in Europe and the United States. Princeton
Latour, B (1988) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Harvard University Press
Ong, A and Chen N.N (2011) Asian Biotech: Ethics and Communities of Fate. Duke University Press
Rose, N (2007) The Politics of Life Itself. Princeton

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes are as follows. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Be familiar with the historical context of contemporary social ambivalence toward emerging science and technologies.
2. Understand the key debates and main actors in shaping scientific practice.
3. Be able to take on an interdisciplinary approach in assessing the impact of science, and assess the value of the range of research methods
4. Be able to apply key theories of science and technology studies (STS) to the analysis of contemporary issues and critically evaluate the effectiveness of different forms of scientific governance.
5. Understand both the limit and strength of social sciences and natural sciences.

The intended generic learning outcomes are as follows. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. The ability to communicate ideas to both academic and general audiences in written and oral media.
2. Skills of critical thinking and evaluation, particularly on competing interpretations of scientific risks.
3. Be able to synthesise and evaluate knowledge from different disciplines and schools of thoughts.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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