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Law, Science and Technology (LAWS90129)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90129
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Science and technology are at the heart of many of the most pressing legal and social problems of our day: disease prevention, bioethics, big data, state and corporate surveillance, the regulation of military technologies, and so on. This subject invites students to consider the common challenges of law, policy and public discourse posed by problems of this sort, at both the domestic and international level. In doing so, it asks: how do scientific discoveries and their technological applications shape our legal and social worlds? And how do law and society affect scientific and technological developments in turn?

The overall aim is to equip students coming from diverse backgrounds, training and experience with the analytical and critical tools necessary to understand and respond to complex questions of science and technology in all their legal, social, (geo)political, ethical, and cultural dimensions.

The lecturer undertakes research and advocacy in this area and was recently a visiting fellow at the Harvard Program on Science, Technology and Society.

Principal topics include:

  • Science and technology studies as a field
  • The relationship between ‘law’, ‘science’, ‘technology’ and ‘society’ as concepts and fields of practice
  • Biotechnology and bioethics
  • Drug patents and disease prevention
  • Big data and global surveillance
  • Military technologies
  • Public discourse around science and technology
  • The future: advocacy, law reform and other critical encounters between law, science, technology and society.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete the subject will:

  • Have an advanced and detailed knowledge of a range of analytical tools and concepts that may be applied in diverse contexts concerning the interactions between law, science, technology and society
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of the challenges involved in regulating science and technology at a global scale
  • Have the capacity and skills to critically appraise encounters between law, science and technology across both domestic and international jurisdictions
  • Have the capacity to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effects, both intended and unintended, of regulatory responses to scientific discoveries and their technological applications
  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the specific legal, social, political, ethical, and cultural dimensions of several key case studies considered throughout the course
  • Be an engaged participant in debates around the co-production of science, technology, law and society.

Last updated: 20 July 2019