UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

At UCL, the academic mission is paramount. Our ambition is to achieve the highest standards in our teaching and research.

Join us for BSc, MSc, and PhD study.

Staff books include:

Miller - The Chemical Cosmos spacerAthena Swan Bronze Award


Training for PhD Students

STS produces a series of short courses and workshops to as part of UCL's Doctoral Skills Development Programme, supported by UCL Doctoral School.


Key Concepts in Science and Technology Studies workshops

(UCL Doctoral School)

Do you ever feel that your research (either in the sciences or in the humanities) is too narrowly focussed and that you may be missing the bigger picture? This course, run by specialists in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, is designed to help.

Using their wide-ranging interdisciplinary expertise, this course sets out to explore the links between the sciences (broadly construed) and the historical, philosophical, and sociological context and issues surrounding them. We envisage the course to be particularly suitable for graduates in both sciences and humanities keen to familiarise themselves with the broader context and questions underlying their research areas. You will be guided towards relevant themes and perspectives through a series of sessions run by each member of STS in turn (each focussing on a particular aspect of the science and technology studies, and broadly falling into the five categories of history of science, philosophy of science, sociology of science, science communication and science policy).

Philosophy of Science workshops

(UCL Doctoral School)

These workshops are open to students from all disciplines, but they are especially designed for those engaged in scientific research who would like to have an opportunity to reflect on the aims and methods of science more systematically than they can in the course of their usual work.

Philosophy of science addresses fundamental questions such as the following:

  • What is science? 
  • Is there a valid scientific method?
  • Are scientific theories true? Or do they simply save the phenomena?
  • How do scientists choose between competing scientific theories?

These questions raise serious challenges to our normal understanding of science and scientific practice. The main objective of this introductory course is to cultivate your ability to think through these issues in a clear, novel, and critical way.

Interviews and Oral History workshops

(UCL Doctoral School)

This practical course is intended for those wishing to use interviews and oral history as a strategy for data collection. This course will be structured as a series of seminars, combining lectures and projects in small groups. 

The course has three aims: (1) improve skills for those wishing to create recorded interviews as part of their data gathering, (2) introduce processes involved in the preparation, conduct, and processing of recorded interviews, and (3) discuss questions relating to the dissemination, preservation, ethics, and budgeting of interviews and resulting materials.

Connecting with the Public: Research Communication, Public Engagement and Outreach

(UCL Doctoral School)

Run by academic staff in UCL STS in cooperation with UCL Public Engagement Unit and UCL Public Policy Unit, this series offers a coherent communication/engagement strand. This includes three workshops:

1) Introduction To Public Engagement (Simon Lock and the PEU) – Whether you're new to the idea of engaging public audiences with your research, or already have some experience in this area, this introductory workshop will provide you with key information about the context and wider benefits of public engagement. Led by nationally recognized experts in public engagement, this session will incorporate an overview of this growing field from both a theoretical and practical perspective. Via interactive activities you explore the variety of reasons why you might want to engage, the benefits to you and your research and the variety of options open to you going forward.

Please note that this workshop is a pre-requisite for all other Public Engagement graduate school sessions

2) How To Engage: Practical Public Engagement (Simon Lock and the PEU) – Building on the background covered in the ‘Introduction to Public Engagement’ course, this session takes the next step, helping you to develop practical skills around how to identify specific public groups and how best to engage with them. Real life case studies from professional practitioners will provide inspiration and concrete examples to highlight existing best practice covering, for example, mechanisms such as citizen science, community participation and online media. Groupwork will enable you to test out your new-found skills in developing an initial plan for a public engagement project suited to a public group of your choice.

3) Engaging With Public Audiences: Extended Activity Development (Karen Bultitude with specific input provided the PEU) – This course provides an opportunity for you to work with expert practitioners to develop your own public engagement activity. Consisting of five separate sessions spread out over a 5-week period, this is an advanced series which will allow you to explore your own interests whilst benefitting from dedicated feedback and guidance throughout the process. Participants are expected to attend all five sessions.

4) Taking Part In Festivals: How To Get Involved, Projects To Run, And What You’ll Get Out Of It (Public Engagement Unit) – This course will equip you to get the most out of being a participant in science, community, art and music festivals. We’ll cover the ways to get involved, the UK festival scene, organizing activities, becoming a stallholder, host or performer and what you should expect from this growing engagement opportunity. Together with experts from across the UK’s festivals you’ll create projects ready to pitch to organisers and hear about opportunities to make them happen.

5) Facilitation Skills For Engagement (Public Engagement Unit) – Sometimes the most powerful form of public engagement is working with communities outside academia to find out what they need and how research can help them. This course will give you the skills to run focus groups, listen to other people’s ideas and collaborate with people outside your discipline to create new projects and ways of working. You’ll even find these skills useful inside academia, as you find new ways to encourage other people’s creativity.

Practical Research Communication Taster Sessions

6) Writing The News (Steve Miller) – Newspaper journalists have the “art” of telling their stories succinctly and in a way that attracts as broad a readership as possible. By and large, they get round problems of technical jargon, including numbers, they simplify without losing the plot, and they give you what you need to understand the essentials of what is happening.  The aim of this exercise is to give you some direct experience of how news writing works - through writing about your own work and working to understand and present someone else's. You should find that this very succinct and formulaic technique provides a basis for clear communication in a variety of contexts.

7) Skills for Engaging School Students (Karen Bultitude and UCL Widening Participation) – This course supports UCL research students in developing skills and insights into engaging school students with your research.  You will gain an understanding of educational disadvantage in the UK and the widening participation agenda, and will learn how to present your subject in an effective, engaging manner appropriate to different age groups.  During the later part of the session you will be provided with support and feedback whilst working up your own ‘taster lecture’ idea, based on your research area and aimed at a specific age group. Participants will also be directed towards teaching opportunities with the UCL Widening Participation team and with other UCL departments and external organisations, so that you can put your new skills into practice.

8) Interviewing For The Radio and Podcasting (Steve Miller) – What happens if a radio or t.v. broadcaster rings up your group and asks for someone to talk about exoplanets or reconstructive surgery, or something in which you and your colleagues have some relevant expertise? Do you panic and hide, do you say this is all too much trouble, or do you rise to the occasion and work out how best you can be helpful. The aim of this exercise is to give experience in talking about research - about your own work and that of others - in such a way that a "lay" audience can understand. You will work in a team to produce a radio magazine programme. The team will gain experience in presenting, interviewing and being interviewed.

9) Communicating Risk (Steve Miller) – Much of the public’s interest in research has to do with risk, and accompanying ethical issues: does this new set of findings mean that we will develop technologies that pose or address risks to our health, to our environment, or to our way of life? Should researchers be allowed to investigate anything and everything, no matter what the consequences might be? The aims of this workshop are (1) to acquaint you with the roles of risk and controversy in the relationship between science and society, and (2) to give you experience in communicating in circumstances where knowledge is not yet certain.

10) Communicating Research In Digital Environments (Karen Bultitude) – Digital communication tools such as social networking, blogging and social bookmarking may not be immediately obvious as being relevant in an academic context, yet they can add tremendous value to your research. This session will focus on creative contemporary approaches to communicating research findings via digital means. An interactive format will provide a combination of relevant background information and practical skills. During this session you will have an opportunity to explore the latest online tools for yourself, investigate the success (or otherwise!) of existing projects using such tools, and have some dedicated time to plan your own approaches.

11) In Front Of And Behind The Camera (Carole Reeves) – Youtube, Vimeo, Vine and even old-fashioned TV are increasingly a vital form of public engagement. This course will help you develop the ability to translate your research into short films to be shared with publics online, including scripting skills, presenting, filming and editing. By the end of the day students will (as teams) have made clips ready to go up on Youtube about their research, and will be more confident in front of a camera.

12) Poster Design And Preparation (Steve Miller) – It would be unusual for any doctoral student not to attend at least one conference during their studies. And it is often a requirement of getting funding that you present something, often by way of a poster. But how will you make your poster the one to be seen, particularly if you want potential employers / post-doctoral supervisors to take notice of you?  The aim of this exercise is to give you the opportunity to design and assemble a poster about scientific research being carried out at postgraduate level at UCL. This will enable you to think about the information to be conveyed, its visual presentation and lay-out and the range of materials that could be used.

Page last modified on 27 jul 14 15:11 by Joe Cain

UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS)
0207 679 1328 office | +44 207 679 1328 international
sts@ucl.ac.uk | www.ucl.ac.uk/sts | @stsucl
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