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Undergraduate Sixth Century Courses 2019-2020

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 - SIXTH CENTURY COURSE

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 students 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 advances. The students will be able to apply their understanding of these interactions to the analysis of modern society to identify and address threats and opportunities presented by technological changes.

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.

SX1015: OCEANS AND SOCIETY - SIXTH CENTURY COURSE

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

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

Field trips and lectures introduce you to the complex interactions between ocean ecology, seafaring, resource exploration and ocean governance, while also demonstrating different approaches to knowledge and 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 the contemporary world. Assessment is through two short reflection papers and a poster project. Download course guide.

SX1501: HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS - SIXTH CENTURY COURSE

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.  

SX1505: SCIENCE AND THE MEDIA - SIXTH CENTURY COURSE

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’s 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.

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.




SX1518: LOGIC, LANGUAGE, AND 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.

SX1521: SUSTAINABLE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

The course explores global sustainable development by focusing on how development is advanced in international and national protocols and policies, mainly the Global Goals, which are championed by the United Nations and various agencies and national governments. Academic and policy texts as well as films are used on the course. Throughout the course there will be a focus on ethical development, equity and social inclusion, peace and justice, quality health and education and climate action. Case studies will be used to illustrate different actions and practices for sustainable development. Cultural, social, economic and political barriers to progress will be identified and critiqued. The course will conclude with critical suggestions for the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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 EVERDAY 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.

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. It draws on research in social science, biological science, philosophy, economics, history and nutritional science. 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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