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Undergraduate Sixth Century Courses 2017-2018

People have been studying at Aberdeen for over five centuries and Sixth Century Courses are exciting cross-disciplinary courses that place you at the cutting-edge of modern learning.

They invite you to consider different approaches to knowledge and enquiry as you look at issues affecting the world in which we live today. They are designed to help you develop a deeper critical understanding of your chosen area of study by setting the subject in a wider context. You will normally be expected to take one of these courses during your degree programme.

All Sixth Century Courses are taught using innovative techniques and students are continually assessed throughout the course.

SX1006: THE MIND MACHINE

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

  • this 6th century course considers brain and mind from a variety of cross-disciplinary perspectives, with teaching delivered in an interactive and innovative manner; 
  • the themes covered in the course include elementary brain structure and function, language, consciousness, and creativity; 
  • assessments types are varied to increase the scope and diversity of the module design, and the transferable skills it delivers; 
  • taken together this novel and exciting course enhances curricular breadth, develops graduate attributes and widens perspectives beyond discipline boundaries in a unique and dynamic manner as we explore this fascinating subject  

SX1007: FEARSOME ENGINES

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

The course aims to help the student understand how technological changes of the past have influenced subsequent social development and how social attitudes of the past have provided drivers and inhibitors of technological advance. The student will then be able to apply their understanding of these interactions to the analysis of modern society so as to identify and address threats and opportunities presented by technological change.

A variety of “fearsome engines” are studied from both the technological and social standpoints and provide students with examples of the process of technological development. The course is continuously assessed and includes student presentations.

SX1009: THE DIGITAL SOCIETY

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

This course provides you with a multi-disciplinary understanding of (1) The impact of the digital society on individuals, organisations and society as a whole; and (2) The main issues and challenges of the digital society. This course uses a problem-based learning approach. Each of the four main topics is introduced by a lecture, followed by tutorials in which you work on a specific problem in a group. For example,  you will investigate the Digital Divide in a particular country and produce a poster with your findings.



SX1011: SUSTAINABILITY: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

The course explores the meaning, challenges and opportunities of sustainability, through a multi-disciplinary approach, including elements from education, politics, international relations, sociology, philosophy and biology.  We explore competing definitions of sustainability; the impact of personal, technological and economic actions and decisions on the environment; political strategies designed to improve sustainability; the emergence of international cooperation; and the roles and responsibilities of world citizens. Global and local case studies are used to illustrate the interconnectedness of the issues involved e.g.  climate change, food systems, energy, and economic development.

SX1015: OCEANS AND SOCIETY

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

 

Investigating an array of real-world problems will allow you to explore past, present and future relationships between society and the oceans in the real-world scenario of an interdisciplinary team.

Field trips and lectures provide the framework for considering ocean ecology, seafaring, resource exploration and ocean governance, and introduce you to different approaches to knowledge and demonstrate how different disciplines work.

Supervised workshops provide a diverse set of learning experiences with feedback from teaching staff and your peers.

Choice of the form of presentation of your project work gives you an opportunity to play to your strengths and develop transferrable skills.

SX1017: GLOBAL ISSUES, GLOBAL RELIGIONS

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

What is the place of religion in the 21st century? How does religion contribute to major, global political issues? Will secularization eventually make religions obsolete? Can you be a scientist and be religious? Is religion bad for the environment? How does religion relate to human rights? How can the religions engage in dialogue? These pressing questions for our world are explored in this course from a variety of academic disciplines and methods, with tutorials focused on debate and interrogation of the place of religion in contemporary world. Assessment is two short reflection papers and a poster project. Download course guide

SX1501: HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

This is a course about human relations with other animals.  We begin by looking at how people have thought about humans and animals as both different and similar.  Then we explore the history of relations through hunting, domestication and social attitudes, before examining ethical and political questions about welfare, rights and conservation.  The course places a big emphasis on students debating ideas and thinking about their own relations with animals and is taught through a mixture of lectures, films and tutorials by staff from across the University.  

SX1504: NATURAL WORLD

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

This course invites students to explore the natural world from different disciplinary perspectives.  Students engage with knowledge and theory as well as personal explorations outdoors.  The course focuses on knowledge, experiences, interpretations and feelings about the natural world.

Delivery: lectures, individual exploration of natural/urban environments, group discussions and field trips.  Sessions include: attitudes to nature, observing and exploring the natural world, interpreting the natural world, spirituality and well-being, nature in film, valuing nature.

Students do three field trips (from a choice of several).  As part of their experience and skills-building, students are required to keep a nature journal.

SX1505: SCIENCE AND THE MEDIA

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

  • as a 6th century course, this is designed to consider the often complex and conflicting interface between science and the media from a variety of discipline perspectives; 
  • as such it complements the development of graduate attributes and enhanced study by providing an opportunity to move outside disciplines and consider broader contexts; 
  • the themes addressed are topical for today‚Äôs society including scientific and media methods, genetically modified foods, vaccination, global warming and fracking; 
  • varied and novel assessment strategies further enhance the student experience providing a range of challenges for students from any discipline

SX1507: FEARSOME ENGINES

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

The course aims to help the student understand how technological changes of the past have influenced subsequent social development and how social attitudes of the past have provided drivers and inhibitors of technological advance. The student will then be able to apply their understanding of these interactions to the analysis of modern society so as to identify and address threats and opportunities presented by technological change.

A variety of “fearsome engines” are studied from both the technological and social standpoints and provide students with examples of the process of technological development. The course is continuously assessed and includes student presentations.

SX1509: THE DIGITAL SOCIETY

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

This course provides you with a multi-disciplinary understanding of (1) The impact of the digital society on individuals, organisations and society as a whole; and (2) The main issues and challenges of the digital society. This course uses a problem-based learning approach. Each of the four main topics is introduced by a lecture, followed by tutorials in which you work on a specific problem in a group. For example,  you will investigate the Digital Divide in a particular country and produce a poster with your findings.





SX1516: MANKIND IN THE UNIVERSE: THE QUESTION OF OBJECTIVITY?

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

How do we know what we know?  How do we judge what we know?  How do we make sense of what is around us, and how do we make informed judgements? Can we be truly objective?

The first half of this course will look at objectivity as viewed by science, philosophy and religion.  This will challenge any preconceived notions that there is a single way of viewing the world about us.  The second half will take objectivity into some topical, controversial and sometimes emotive issues (e.g. climate, evolution, ethics, genetics) examining these in the light of our studies on objectivity.




SX1519: AFRICA: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL?

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

The course looks at how development has been portrayed in academic texts as well as in novels, films and music. Throughout the course will be a focus on human rights, equity and social inclusion, good governance and resource allocation. Case studies will be used to demonstrate good practice and different cultural, social, economic and political barriers to progress will be identified. The course will conclude with a focus on the need for information, systems, community participation, empowerment and political commitment for the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

SX1520: LOGIC, LANGUAGE & INFORMATION

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

What makes an argument convincing? What gives our language meaning? Are there limits to reason? What are the laws of thought? 

Formal logic has proved itself an exceptionally powerful tool in contemporary philosophy, computer science, psychology, linguistics and mathematics.  This course will provide an introduction to the tools of formal logic including: the assessment of arguments; the symbolic representation of language; and the abstract representation of meaning. It will then apply these tools to topics including: the Sorites paradox (philosophy); everyday reasoning (psychology); description logic (computer science); systematic translation (linguistics); and continuity (mathematics). Download course guide.

SX3002: SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

15 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

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.




SX3007: MATHEMATICAL FOUNDATIONS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

15 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

In this course, students will learn about the mathematics which underpins our everyday lives. Each lecture will be taught by a different member of staff, some from the mathematics department, and some from other departments. Actual topics covered will depend on the staff involved, but may include Cryptography, Robotics, Probability and Special Relativity. Students will also learn how to use the computer program Mathematica.

SX3501: RESTLESS VULCAN

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This is not a course on Roman mythology, but it is designed to dispel some of the scientific myths associated with volcanism, many of them generated by that hotbed of scientific rigour, the Hollywood movie industry.  With the aid of some common-or-garden substances (like golden syrup, custard, ball bearings and a lava lamp), and using information from Google Earth and NASA, the physical properties of lava flows will be investigated. Many eruptions are catastrophically explosive.  So, we need to know why some, but not all volcanoes cause explosions. It's actually all down to some straightforward physics. 

SX3504: CONSCIOUSNESS

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

The mystery of consciousness is one of the most exciting and challenging fields in human endeavour. Consciousness provides a truly inter-disciplinary topic with relevance across both the sciences and the humanities. This Sixth Century course aimed at level 3 and level 4 students will present cutting-edge research using a clear inter-disciplinary perspective. The course brings together the disciplines of divinity, psychology, and medicine, with a particular focus on the clinical and health-based aspects of consciousness studies. The assessment is a mixture of non-traditional (e.g. Self-reflective journal) and a traditional (essay).

SX3505: WORLDS OF FOOD: BIOLOGICAL, SOCIAL, CULTURAL

15 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course will enable students to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of food that is scientifically, geographically and historically informed. The course is structured around the concept of food security (comprising production, availability and access), which is one of the key policy and resource issues facing the world.

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