From 26 January 2018 15:15 to 30 November 2018 18:00

That Thing Called Science (course)

Course description

In modern life, science is everywhere. The products of biomedical science and technology may help achieve a healthy society and economic progress. They may prolong life and make it more agreeable at the same time.

  • But how much do we really know about the production, implementation and evaluation of scientific knowledge?
  • What, exactly, is the basis for our belief in science?
  • What sets it apart from common knowledge?
  • Who should we trust in case two scientists disagree in a hotly debated issue?
  • Is science a vocation or just another profession?
  • Is scientific knowledge something special to be emulated, or ‘just another opinion’?
  • How does science really work?
  • Are scientific facts discovered or rather socially constructed and considered ‘true’ only after fierce debate
  • How are science and technology embedded in society and how do they change over time?

If you want to become a scientist – either an academic researcher or a scientifically educated professional with a job outside academia -, you should be aware of these and similar questions. You should not just know about the contents of scientific knowledge, but about its context as well.

What you will learn

This course sets out to create awareness, aiming for broad scientific literacy. In nine Friday afternoon sessions, the historical, philosophical, sociological, commercial, ethical, political and personal dimensions of the life sciences will be discussed.

For every session, five students will be appointed as (collective) chair. Together, you are responsible for the quality of the debate and the success of the meeting.

Course trainer

During each session two speakers, who are experts in their field, will set the scene for a highly interactive session.
Course coordinator: Prof. Frank Huisman, PhD - History of Medicine, UMC Utrecht

Course Schedule

Fridays from 15.15 - 18.00.
January 26, February 23, March 23, April 20, May 25, June 22, September 28, October 25 and November 30, 2018.

Max. number of participants              


Number of credits                                 

1.0 EC

Course certificate                                

You will receive a course certificate if you attend at least 7 out of 9 sessions. You are expected to be active as participant, which means that you prepare the topic and, even more important, that you take part in the general discussion.

Course fee

Course fee internal PhD candidates: Free of charge.
Course fee external participants: €500.

‘Internal PhD candidates’ refers to PhD candidates who are working (either on a salary or on a scholarship) at the faculty of Science, faculty of Veterinary Medicine or UMC Utrecht. Please note that you can use your personal course budget of €400/year (€1,600 max) to pay for these courses. This budget is managed by your department (faculty of Science/Veterinary Medicine) or your Division (UMC Utrecht). 

‘External participants’ include PhD candidates working elsewhere (even those registered with the PhD programmes of the Graduate School of Life Sciences, e.g. at the Hubrecht Institute), PhD candidates from other Schools and postdocs.

Start date and time
26 January 2018 15:15
End date and time
30 November 2018 18:00
Entrance fee
Course fee internal PhD candidates: FREE OF CHARGE. Course fee external participants: €500.
More information
PhD Course Centre