UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Science and Society BSc

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UCAS U80 L391

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This degree studies science in its varied and complex modern forms. We don't train you in science, but we train you to study science and scientists as part of modern society. We combine (1) science policy, ethics, and governance, (2) science communication, engagement, and evaluation, and (3) sociology of modern science and technology. This study is supported by a wide range of modules in the history, philosophy, and social studies of science. UCL is unique in the UK in offering this single honours BSc.

Many of our students seek careers in science communication, civil service, and NGOs for science policy. Others pursue journalism and communication. Further afield, we have a solid track record preparing students for careers in law and finance, where they draw on the critical thinking and research skills we teach.

We combine:

  • science policy, ethics, and governance
  • science communication, engagement, and evaluation
  • sociology of modern science and technology

All this is supported by a wide range of modules in history and philosophy of science. UCL is unique in the UK in offering this single honours BSc.

Common First Year

Our degrees follow a common first year whereby students in each degree take the same modules. We do this because we want a solid foundation for everyone. We also want to give you flexibility. At the end of the first year students have the opportunity to switch streams within the department. Our first year modules are organised into two core themes. 

Science and Society core

  • 1004 Science Policy
  • 1007 Investigating Science and Society
  • 1008 Science Communication and Public Engagement
  • 1010 Revealing Science

History and Philosophy of Science core

  • 1001 History of Science: Antiquity to Enlightenment
  • 1003 Philosophy of Science 1
  • 1011 History of Modern Science
  • 1012 Investigating History and Philosophy of Science

Second and Third Years

In the second and third years, you take modules following a simple plan. We have a few compulsory modules. We also ask you to take a set of modules clustering in the specialisation of your degree. Beyond this, your degree builds with a supporting group of related modules in the department and from across UCL. Most students find there is far more variety than they could possibly take up. That leads to wonderful choices every year.

Core elements

We keep compulsory modules to a minimum:

  • HPSC3004 Dissertation

We use a simple structure for other parts of the degree. This is designed to maximise flexibility and cater to your growing choices.

Year 2

  • 3 option modules in Science and Society
  • 1 option module in STS
  • 2 more modules from any subject within the department

Year 3

  • 3 option modules in Science and Society
  • 2 more modules from any subject within the department

'Science and Society' options

The department offers a wide range of option modules both in Science and Society as an area of study and also across the whole range of the department, including:


HPSC2001 Policy Issues in the Life Sciences
HPSC2002 Science in Popular Culture
HPSC2006 Science and Ethics
HPSC2023 Sociology of Science and Technology
HPSC2025 Special Topics in Science and Society: Science in Government
HPSC2027 Engaging the Public with Science
HPSC2028 Thinking about Technology


HPSC3002 Science, Warfare and Peace
HPSC3003 Science Journalism
HPSC3009 Science and the Publishing Industry
HPSC3011 Science Writing
HPSC3012 Science in the Twentieth Century
HPSC3032 Investigating Contemporary Science
HPSC3033 Science Communication in Digital Environments
HPSC3035 Major Internship
HPSC3036 Governing Emerging Technologies
HPSC3042 Madness and Society
HPSC3043 History of Social Sciences
HPSC3045 Philosophy of Information
HPSC3046 Science and Film Production
HPSC3051 Zoos in Science and Culture
HPSC3052 Nature, Technology, and the Environment
HPSC3053 Globalization in Theory and Practice

Students also can take some modules classified as "History and Philosophy of Science" (details). Not all modules are offered every year, and these titles evolve as we work to keep the programme on the cutting edge. We'll keep you up-to-date any changes.

Degree Benefits

The Science and Society BSc studies modern science by using an interdisciplinary set of approaches. The aim is to produce graduates ready to talk about science and interpret its influences in modern society without committing to a life at the lab bench. Science involves many more people than scientists themselves, and this degree seeks to build policy makers, communicators, and other observers who can contribute informed views to ongoing debates about science’s direction and impact. With our focus on key skills, practical methods, and broader perspectives, we also aim to create versatile thinkers ready to engage emerging issues. This might involve contributing to debates on science funding or ethics. It might involve weighing the value of different social priorities. It might involve consulting on the impact of new technologies and new discoveries.

This degree is designed to be flexible. Our module catalogue balances practical and theory-based options. The real strength of the degree is the broad foundation it provides across a wide range of fundamental subjects, held together by strong interdisciplinary connections. This provides an excellent springboard for specialization in the final year or in further study at the postgraduate level.

Your final year culminates in a research project of your own design, resulting in a dissertation approximately the scale of a published academic paper. Normally, projects focus on case studies in science communication, science policy, or the sociology of science. Some dissertations have been published; others have served as strong portfolio items for postgraduate applications and as superb conversation starters in interviews.

Your Learning

The Science and Society BSc is taught by the Department of Science and Technology Studies, a department with a reputation for excellence in the classroom. Tutors have won local and international teaching awards. The department has recently received a UCL award for its public engagement. We consistently rank high in student evaluations. Typical comments rate us as friendly, supportive, down-to-earth, and inspirational.

Our teaching methods adapt to the specific needs of our students. Many modules include small group discussions and active participation. We make use of resources across London, from the Royal Society to the Wellcome Trust, from the Science Museum to Parliament. With 15-20 undergraduate students in each year group, we have a student-to-tutor ratio of approximately 4-to-1.


Assessment is coordinated so you can develop skills for a wide range of academic challenges. We also want you to build a solid portfolio to demonstrate your abilities. Coursework ranges from short position pieces to significant research papers. In addition to essays, we sometimes assess using posters, blogs, and multimedia projects. Practical work includes mock parliamentary reports, radio programmes, presentations, and Web projects. Group work sometimes is used, as are unseen exams. Writing, presenting, and adapting to new audiences are key skills your tutors will help you to cultivate.