• 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
  • Course convener
    • Dr Rachael Brown
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2022
    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, COVID-19, 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:

  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

  1. Essay, 2000 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  2. Short writing exercise, 750 words (10) [LO 2,3,4]
  3. Tutorial participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Journal 1500 words (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:

a) 12 hours of recorded material from lecturer

b) 24 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities.

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

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have previously completed 6 units of Philosophy (PHIL) courses, or with permission of the convenor.

Prescribed Texts

No prescribed texts are required. All material provided on Wattle.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2022 $3840
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $4980
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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
7280 25 Jul 2022 01 Aug 2022 31 Aug 2022 28 Oct 2022 In Person View

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