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Sciences and Humanities


Admission requirements

Bachelor degree (completed)


Universities belong to the oldest still existing organisations in the world. For over 800 years they have been centres of knowledge production, education, and reflection. Modern universities exhibit a high degree of specialisation within the different subject areas, usualy organised in a handful faculties.

In an influential lecture from 1959 the British scientist and novelist C.P Snow has pointed at the differences in "culture" between disciplines that fall under the sciences and those that fall under the humanities. Today we might add the social sciences as a separate category and distinguish between alfa, bèta, and gamma.

In this course we identify some of the "cultural differences" between the different fields in terms of their methods, relationship to society, and epistemological values, i.e. their attitude towards knowledge-finding and "the truth". On the other hand, we investigate what is shared between fields and how the forces of multiple disciplines can be joined to see even further.

Along the way, a wide range of thinkers from philsophy and the history of science will be discussed, ranging from Descartes to Rorty, Popper to Feyerabend, Copernicus to Newton, and Kant to Wittgenstein––to name just a few. Also, attention will be paid to different forms of knowledge-gathering and -sharing, using short stories from Kafka and Borges as well as the film The Matrix.

Course objectives

Students are able to:

  • reflect on the alfa, bèta, and gamma division in academia in terms of methods, relationship to society, and epistemological value;

  • describe various cases from the history of science and their implications, most notably the Copernican Revolution;

  • define the field of epistemology and characterise different positions in historical as well as contemporary debates;

  • formulate their own position in epistemological debates and support this with relevant arguments;

  • reflect on alternative ways of knowledge-production and -sharing, such as through (science-)ficiton.


Date, time and location of this course is included in the Media Technology calendar.

Mode of instruction

The course includes class lectures and discussion hours, as well as an individual session for feedback on the homework and getting input for the final assignment.

Assessment method

Assessment is based on homework assignments, a written exam, and a final assignment that can take the form of an essay, fictional work, small documentary, podcast, computer programme, or physical installation.

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average

Soon after the announcement of the written exam result and as early as possible before the resit, the exam will be given to the participants for inspection and a discussion of the exam can take place on a student's request.

Reading list

Full reference list will be dissemminated through Blackboard/Brightspace. Articles and book chapters that cannot be found online are available in the class library in Snellius 413.

In addition, all students are expected to buy a copy of the following book, as we read it almost cover-to-cover:

A.F. Chalmers. 2013. What is that thing called science? 4th Ed. Queensland, Queensland UP.


  • You have to sign up for courses and exams (including retakes) in uSis.

  • Due to limited capacity, non-Media Technology students (elective, external and exchange) can only register after approval of the programme coordinator/study advisor Barbara Visscher-van Grinsven MA.

  • Students who have not yet completed their bachelor degree cannot be admitted to Media Technology courses.


Media Technology MSc programme coordinator/study advisor: Barbara Visscher-van Grinsven MA