SCI303: The History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science


SCI303: The History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science

Key details

Accredited towardsBachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts
Unit typeElective unit
Credit points6
Indicative contact hours3 hours per week
Offered inSemester 1
Tuition feeLearn more



Science holds a pre-eminent place in our culture as an authoritative source of knowledge. Scientists shape our daily activities and controversial scientific issues are constantly in the news: climate change, medical research, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy are just a few examples. But what exactly is this thing called ‘Science’? What do scientists actually do? What makes their knowledge ‘scientific’ and authoritative? What is the relationship between science and religion? And if science shapes our lives, can society, in turn, shape science? This unit of study sets out to answer these vital questions. Students will learn how science works (or is supposed to work), and how science and society interact. This unit is intended to provide an introduction to the history, philosophy and sociology of science to prepare students for the major case study to be undertaken in SCI304: The Darwinian Revolution in Semester 2.


Learning outcomes

This unit is truly inter-disciplinary, incorporating topics, methods and skills in philosophy, sociology, politics, history and science. Students undertaking this study at the third-year level will, therefore, be drawing upon their prior studies in the liberal arts, consolidating and expanding their knowledge base and skills. More specifically, on completion of this unit of study, students will be able to:

  1. understand the nature of science: what scientists do
  2. critically evaluate the concept of the ‘scientific method’
  3. examine and evaluate competing philosophical perspectives of science and scientific method
  4. describe the relationship between science and society, and between science and religion
  5. reflect analytically on the way science is portrayed in our society
  6. engage in research on, critical reading of, and analysis of the presented material and readings
  7. exercise and improve written and oral communication skills
  8. exhibit in written work clarity of expression, logical essay structure, and appropriate use of referencing according to the conventions of academic writing.



Interested in other Science units?

SCI303: The History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
SCI304: The Darwinian Revolution
SCI305: Human Biology I
SCI306: Human Biology II
SCI307: History of the Mathematical Sciences – From Antiquity to the Present
SCI308: Introduction to Formal Logic



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