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Science and technology are at the heart of many of the most pressing legal and social problems of our day: climate change, war, disease prevention, state and corporate surveillance, ‘post-truth’ politics, the Uberisation platformisation of everything, and AI. Likewise, legal institutions rely heavily on scientific claims for their legitimacy and technical innovations for their social and political effects.
This subject takes a critical look at these dynamics, using both historical and contemporary examples to explore the complex relations between law, science and power. In doing so it asks: How do scientific discoveries and their technological applications shape our social and legal worlds? And how do law and society affect scientific and technological developments in turn?
The overall aim is to equip students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds with the analytical and critical tools necessary to understand and respond to complex questions of science and technology in all their legal, social, political, ethical, and cultural dimensions.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Analyse and reflect upon the complex relationships between law, science, and power, including the historical and contemporary examples that illustrate these dynamics.
- Evaluate the ways in which legal institutions rely on scientific claims for their legitimacy and how technical innovations impact social and political effects.
- Demonstrate an understanding of how scientific discoveries and technological applications can shape our social and legal worlds, as well as how law and society can affect scientific and technological developments in turn.
- Apply analytical and critical tools to complex questions related to science and technology, including their legal, social, political, ethical, and cultural dimensions.
On completion of the subject the student should have:
- the capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of textual materials;
- the capacity to engage in critical thinking and to bring to bear a range of conceptual analyses upon a given subject matter;
- the capacity to articulate knowledge and understanding of complex ideas in oral and written form;
- an awareness of diversity and plurality;
- capacity for self-directed learning, specifically the ability to plan work and use time effectively; and
- capacity to judge the worth of their own arguments.
Last updated: 20 February 2024