• Offered by School of Philosophy
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Philosophy
  • Areas of interest Philosophy, Policy Studies, Science, Science Communication, Ethics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

Perhaps now more so than in any other time in human history, science and technology play a central role in our lives. With this comes the potential for both great benefit to society, and great harm. This unit critically examines the nature of science, and its role in society via a mixture of discussion and written activities. Using various real world  examples, such as climate change, cloning, genetic engineering, space exploration and animal testing, the following ethical and philosophical questions will be considered: (1) What is science?; (2) What sort of research should we be doing in science?; (3) Who should decide what research we undertake?; (4) What role should science and scientists play in society?; and (5) What ethical responsibility do scientists have to society?

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Understand and articulate the key philosophical issues relating to the role of the sciences in contemporary society.
  2. Engage in philosophical discussion and debate on the various issues relating to the appropriate place of science in society.
  3. Critically assess arguments about the appropriate place of science in society.
  4. Clearly articulate their own position with respect to contemporary real world debates about science in society.

Indicative Assessment

Essay, 2000 words, 40% (Learning Outcomes 1-5)

Essay planning exercise, 500 words, 5% (Learning Outcomes 1-5)

Short writing exercise, 750 words, 15% (Learning Outcomes 2-5)

Tutorial participation, 10% (Learning Outcomes 1-5)

Journal 1500 words, 30% (Learning Outcomes 1-5)

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 36 hours of contact: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities.

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing

Requisite and Incompatibility

6 units of Philosophy (PHIL) courses or with permission of the course convenor




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $2856
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4080
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4847 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 In Person N/A

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