UCL Centre for Systems Engineering


Responsible Science and Innovation


This module is run by UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies as a series of two-hour lessons over the course of the first term.

Module Code: HPSCGA47

Module Leader: Dr Jack Stilgoe


Science and innovation have huge potential for benefit and harm. With power should come responsibility, but history is littered with countless cautionary tales that suggest that innovation is a form of 'organised irresponsibility'. Should we expect more from scientists? Should we hold them responsible for the policy or technological failure? Are there ways to steer and improve technologies while they are still emerging?


In this course, we will look at rationales and methods for making science and innovation more responsible. We will look at the responsibilities scientists might have to their profession and how these change when they are 'in public', as experts, innovators or communicators.

The course will look back at case studies of technological failure and scientific misdemeanour, while looking ahead to emerging issues such as geo-engineering and human enhancement. We will use ideas from ethics, sociology of science, philosophy of technology and science policy studies.


Assessment is via two 2500-word pieces of coursework.