Postgraduate study
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Science and Technology in Society MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

The MSc Science and Technology in Society offers a comprehensive introduction to the field of science and technology studies (STS), and is intended for students wishing to develop a theoretical and practical understanding of the interplay between science and society.

The scientific and technological nature of our societies is, unquestionably, one of their most salient characteristics. Science and technology are with us, human (and other) beings, every moment of the day, every day of our lives, and even when life turns into death. But why exactly do science and technology (and innovation) exert such influence over humans and their doings? Where does such power come from? In short: what makes them special? On the other side, is it correct to assume that societies and social actors are powerless in the face of scientific and technological developments? Are there grounds to question who is or should be ‘an expert’? Why do governments (and some international organisations) seek to regulate science and scientific advancements? Why have public engagement with scientific innovations, patient groups’ involvement in medical and healthcare developments, and demands for responsible innovation become so prominent in recent years?

These are some of the questions which underlie our programme. Students will be given the chance to explore them in a variety of contexts and through the lenses of different theoretical and analytical traditions.

Why Edinburgh?

STS is a well-established area within the social sciences; STIS (Science, Technology and Innovation Studies) is the department of the School of Social and Political Science that hosts one of the leading international centres of interdisciplinary research and teaching in science, technology and innovation studies. You will be studying as part of a vibrant community of scholars with over fifty years of international leadership within the field.

Who this programme is for

We welcome students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds with a keen interest in the complex and rapidly evolving relationships between science, technology and society. While this programme is primarily suited for those with some background in the social sciences, history and the humanities, we have students from a wide range of backgrounds. Our students are united by a desire to critically understand and reflect on science and technology in their social contexts.

You should be aware that this is a social science programme and that good writing skills displaying reflection, insight and analytical ability will be required. You will be asked to read a significant quantity of complex texts on a weekly basis in order to engage in class debates and coursework. You will also need to write lengthy essays and a dissertation.

Topics

In Semester 1 of the programme, you will be introduced to key theories and contemporary academic debates in the field, including:

  • the sociology and social history of science and technology
  • innovation policy and management
  • the role of scientific expertise in policy making
  • science and technology for international development

In Semester 2, and during your dissertation research, you will be able to call on the expertise of our highly regarded academic staff. They will guide you in the application of your knowledge to address key societal issues and challenges. Depending on your interests, this work might relate to:

  • Energy and Environment
  • Life Sciences and Bioeconomy
  • Data and Society

Introductory readings

It is recommended that applicants have a look at some introductory STS readings, particularly if they are new to the field and the social science approach more generally. Recommended readings include:

  • Felt, U., Fouché, R., Miller, C. A., Smith-Doerr, L. 2017, The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, 4th edition, The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. - Read one or two entries that interest you.
  • Yearley, Steve 2005, Making Sense of Science: Understanding the Social Study of Science, Sage: London. - Read one or two chapters.
  • Deborah G. Johnson and Jameson Wetmore, 2021, Technology and Society - Building Our Sociotechnical Future, 2nd edition, The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. - Read one or more of the entries.

This programme is delivered through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • group work
  • guided independent study

You will complete:

  • three compulsory courses in Semester 1
  • three or four option courses in Semester 2
  • an independently researched dissertation

It may also be possible to pursue a dissertation through a work-based placement though the availability of placements cannot be guaranteed.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScScience and Technology in Society1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24
MScScience and Technology in Society2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

Graduates will be expected to:

  • possess a theoretical grounding in the interdisciplinary field of science, technology and innovation studies
  • display the ability to critically employ theories and concepts from science, technology and innovation studies for the analysis of a range of empirical examples
  • appreciate the methodological and epistemological underpinnings of a range of social science approaches for understanding science, technology and innovation
  • have a critical awareness of current issues in the area of science, technology and innovation studies along with an understanding of how this area intersects with other disciplinary domains
  • be able to communicate their acquired methodological and analytical insights to academic and non-academic audiences alike
  • be capable of translating academic findings from science, technology and innovation studies into practical suggestions for public and policy contexts

This programme is ideally suited if you are looking to enter a career in:

  • policy and government
  • technology management
  • social research and analysis
  • science communication
  • academia
  • non-governmental organisations

You will also develop a range of highly transferable skills, such as critical analysis, communication and project management, which can be applied to roles in any field.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScScience and Technology in Society1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScScience and Technology in Society2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 1 July 2024

If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

References are not usually required for applications to this programme.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Graduate School of Social & Political Science
  • Chrystal Macmillan Building
  • 15A George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LD