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SX3002: SCIENCE AND SOCIETY (2016-2017)

Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

Science is constantly in the news, but how much do you know about how research gets to be news? How do you know you can trust what you read? If you have a great idea, do you know how to protect it and start a company? Science and Society will explain how the scientific media work and how to critically assess what you read. You will learn about scientific ethics by studying high profile cases of fraud. You will learn about intellectual property, how to protect it and how to use it from real-life entrepreneurs and those who support them.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Angel Cuesta Ciscar

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

A broad introduction to ethics in research will be given which will span topics from ethics in medicine and science, government and university codes and policies and ethical considerations in publishing. The role of IPR and copyright in protecting ideas will be introduced.

The importance of scientific engagement with the public, government/policy makers and research peers will be revealed. The process of successfully taking an original scientific idea to the marketplace will be described. We will show how to pitch a complex scientific concept to a general audience.

Further Information & Notes

Available to students in Year 3 & 4 only. The course focuses on the role of science in society and as such may be more suited to students studying for science degrees.

Further Reading:

Responsible Conduct of Research by Adil E Shamoo and David B Resnik (Oxford University Press (2009)).

Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology, Edited by Massimiano Bucchi, Brian Trench (Routledge, (2008)).

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Continuous assessment (100%):

There will be four individual assessments, each carrying an equal weight. The nature of the assessments may change slightly, depending on student numbers.
The students will:
Perform a case study to discover how academic research can lead to patents and spin out companies. This will be in the form of a publicity leaflet.
Write an a report in the style of the New scientist of not more than 2,000 words on a topic in general science selected from a list of possible choices. Flash presentations will also be given on the same topic.
Take part in a group discussion on the different issues related to ethics in research. This will then be written up and turned into a class wiki; the students will work in groups to prepare the site.
Pitch a complex scientific concept to a panel of academics. The students will work in a group to prepare the pitch.
Second attempts at continuous assessment.

Formative Assessment

Peer review of presentations.


Constructive informal feedback will be give to students after each written or oral assessment.

Course Learning Outcomes


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