Postgraduate Module Descriptor


SOCM016: Cultures of the Life Sciences

This module descriptor refers to the 2022/3 academic year.

Module Aims

This module provides a thorough introduction to contemporary and historical practices in the biological and biomedical sciences, and will draw on scientific, philosophical, historical and sociological literature to do so. This module focuses on the ways in which biological knowledge is produced, from the collection and description of species in natural history to the use of models, computation, digital publishing and data-sharing in contemporary biotechnology. Students will investigate the relation between the knowledge produced within the biomedical sciences and the infrastructures, legal norms, instruments, institutions and socio-historical conditions under which such knowledge is achieved. Important historical developments will be dealt with in relation to contemporary shifts in biological practice and theory. As a result, students will be able to critically assess the relevance of material, social and economic conditions for the production and future of biomedical knowledge.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here - you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. demonstrate an understanding of many of the basic conceptual issues and challenges at stake in the life sciences,
2. demonstrate in writing an ability to philosophically analyse the ways in which these problems have been and/or could be addressed
3. demonstrate in writing an ability to understand both contemporary and historical aspects of biology in a wide conceptual context and to think across discipline-specific boundaries.
Discipline-Specific Skills4. demonstrate in writing and orally a well-developed ability to understand and analyse scientific theories and philosophical arguments
5. demonstrate in writing and orally an understanding of the role and importance of detailed empirical work for philosophical understanding
Personal and Key Skills6. demonstrate an independent ability to construct their own arguments and critically evaluate the ideas and arguments of others, both orally and in writing
7. demonstrate in writing able to show they have acquired precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex problems. Students will also be able to identify and locate appropriate literature, and write cogent and convincing essay