This course is replaced by IN9010 – Design, Technology and Society.

INF9011 – Science technology society ethics

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In this course we will explore the relations between science, technology, society, and ethics. You will gain understanding of the different theoretical frameworks used to analyse these relations and you will learn how to recognise and address ethical challenges in information technology design and use. You will apply these theoretical perspectives in group discussions and hands-on assignments.

We will begin with an overview of how the relations between science and technology and between the social and the technical has been theorised. We will read some philosophy and history of science, such as Thomas Kuhn’s ‘Scientific Revolutions’, the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SKK), the Social construction of Technology (SCOT), and Actor Network Theory (ANT). We will look at Robert Merton’s ‘norms’, which leads us to the discussion of values, social norms, and ethics in science and technology. We will work with concepts such as ‘social construction’, ‘instrumentalism’, ‘relativism’, and ‘technoscience’. We will further explore an ecological understanding of the relations between science, technology, society, and ethics, based on readings in applied ethics, feminist technoscience, and postcolonial science and technology studies.

In an ecological perspective we understand technology as influencing society as well as being influenced by society. What does such a perspective mean for us as information technology designers and users? In this course we will explore some current social challenges and we will discuss ethical frameworks, which can be used to analyse and resolve ethical difficulties, which may come up in your work as information technology designers.

Learning outcome

After this course you will be able to:

  • present and discuss different theoretical perspectives on the relations between science, technology, society, and ethics
  • present different perspectives on knowledge and knowledge production
  • analyse social and ethical challenges in information technology design and use
  • discuss different perspectives on the social and ethical responsibility of the information technology designer and user
  • apply different methods to explore and discuss theoretical concepts and social and ethical challenges


PhD candidates from the University of Oslo should apply for classes and register for examinations through Studentweb.

If a course has limited intake capacity, priority will be given to PhD candidates who follow an individual education plan where this particular course is included. Some national researchers’ schools may have specific rules for ranking applicants for courses with limited intake capacity.

PhD candidates who have been admitted to another higher education institution must apply for a position as a visiting student within a given deadline.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.

Overlapping courses


There will be 3 hours lectures and discussions per week. 80% participation is required.

Mandatory assignments:

  • presentation of literature;
  • midterm presentation of group reports; and
  • a group report.

Rules for mandatory assignments.


The mandatory assignments must be approved prior to the exam.

The exam evaluation is based on a written essay and an oral exam. The written exam needs to be passed before the student can participate in the oral exam. All exams have to be completed in one semester.

In addition, each PhD student will be given an extended curriculum within the field/research area of the course. The syllabus must be approved by the lecturer so that the student can be admitted to the final exam.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a pass/fail scale. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Students who can document a valid reason for absence from the regular examination are offered a postponed examination at the beginning of the next semester.

Re-scheduled examinations are not offered to students who withdraw during, or did not pass the original examination.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.


It is strongly recommended to attend the first lecture since it will be given important information.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language