Democratizing Science and Technology (968N1)

15 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

This module is an introduction to social studies of science and technology.

You explore how techno-scientific developments such as gene editing and climate geoengineering are political issues, embroiled not only in controversies among scientists and engineers but also subject to wider public debates. Participants in these debates include civil society organisations and social movements, which may oppose or promote specific technologies and ways of knowing.

You look at how socioeconomic interests (including those of different user groups) and political forces such as public protests and government regulations attempt to influence the making of science and technology in (R&D) laboratories and test sites, alongside the norms and routines of scientists and engineers themselves. 

You explore the debates on how sciences and technologies intervene in wider social and material reality. Scientists (including those doing the social sciences) and engineers not only provide policy advice but also play a role in running corporations and work with civil society organizations. And in doing so, their facts and artefacts intertwined with cultural values and market forces shape how people relate to each other and to the natural world. 

You study:

  • social construction of scientific knowledge and of technology
  • actor-network theory, sciences as practices
  • co-production of science and society
  • risk, uncertainty and ambiguity.


67%: Lecture
33%: Practical (Workshop)


20%: Coursework (Essay)
80%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 117 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.