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Science as Culture: Introduction


Additional Information

Admission requirements

A propedeutic exam of any Bachelor’s program.
Elective students: please contact the study advisor of your Bachelor’s program for information and enrollment.


This course will introduce the minor STiS. Science does not arise and exist in a vacuum, but in a specific historical, political, social, and (inter-) national context. The students will learn how the development of science and technology can be studied from a cultural, sociological and economic perspective. The main topics will include:

  • The rise of the research university from the 12th century onwards

  • What makes the 17th century scientific revolution so special?

  • What are the characteristics of a scientific culture?

  • Which theoretical frameworks can be used to understand the development of science and technology in current societies?

  • How can science be studied empirically rather than only philosophically?

Course objectives

The minor aims to give a thorough interdisciplinary perspective on scientific cultures as they really exist (beyond first year text book introductions), their origins, key means of expression, and roles in society. Students will gain a basic understanding of the rise of scientific cultures, their histories, and their most important institutions. The course also gives a theoretical and methodological overview of the most important concepts in science and technology studies. This will enable students to understand how science itself can be studied in a rigorous scientific way. The course will also help students to acquire a basic understanding of technological development and innovation processes.


  • Lectures: Monday 9 – 29 September 15-18h;

  • Working group meetings: Thursday 25 September – 16 October, 15-18h

Assessment method

  • Obligatory attendance of the lectures and work groups

  • Written open question examination


We will use blackboard as communication platform for lecture notes, assignments and announcements.

Reading list

John Ziman, Real Science. What it is, and what it means. Cambridge University Press (2000). 385 pp.
Additional compulsory readings will be made available via blackboard or through the Leiden University Library. Supplementary reading will be encouraged throughout the course.


Registration is open from May 1st until August 15 2014. The course catalogue code is 6000MSCTSN, activity number 1044
Please note that we can accommodate a maximum of 40 students. Admission is based on the students’ qualifications + a first come, first served basis.
Students from other universities will need permission to register.
Please send an e-mail to Sarah de Rijcke at .
This also holds for Exchange and Study Abroad students. For more information please see the “Prospective students website”:

Contact information

Dr. Sarah de Rijcke, coordinator minor StiS,, 071-5276853.