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Unit of study_

HPSC3002: Hist and Phil of the Biomedical Sciences

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This Unit of Study is dedicated to the science of life, and focuses on the history and philosophy of biology and medicine. Theories about the origins of life, evolution, the nature and importance of DNA and various environmental factors have been debated by scientists but also in the public sphere. Medical and biological researchers continuously articulate new and innovative theories on the nature of disease and propose novel intervention strategies to alter those conditions. In this Unit of Study, we will take a closer look at the theories of life, disease, and death. We will focus in particular on the contributions historians and philosophers of science can make to discussions in the life sciences.

Unit details and rules

Unit code HPSC3002
Academic unit History and Philosophy of Science Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Prohibitions
? 
None
Prerequisites
? 
(HPSC2100 or HPSC2900) and (HPSC2101 or HPSC2901)
Corequisites
? 
None
Assumed knowledge
? 

None

Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff

Coordinator Maureen O'Malley, maureen.omalley@sydney.edu.au
Tutor(s) Laura Sumrall, laura.sumrall@sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Class presentation
Oral presentation
25% Multiple weeks 10-15+ minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Participation Participation
Class questions/discussion
10% Ongoing Variable
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO2
Assignment Essay
Essay
40% STUVAC
Due date: 21 Nov 2021 at 23:59
2500-3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Report
Report
12.5% Week 04
Due date: 05 Sep 2021 at 23:59
300-400 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Assignment Report
Report
12.5% Week 08
Due date: 10 Oct 2021 at 23:59
300-400 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5

Assessment summary

Class presentation (25%)

Ongoing, throughout the semester, as scheduled for each student.

Students will be rostered to present once for 10-15 minutes on the assigned readings for the lecture-seminars. This roster will be worked out in the first session of the semester when dates will be randomly assigned. See Canvas for presentation guidelines. As well as a verbal account of the particular reading, students are required to provide slides with relevant graphics and text. The slides will be displayed as part of the presentation.

Class questions/discussion (10%)

Ongoing, throughout the semester

Students are expected to contribute to discussion, and answer questions individually and in collective exercises. The lecture-seminar format will have many opportunities for questions and discussion. If you miss a lecture or tutorial and want to make up the marks, talk to the lecturer/tutor about how this can be done.

2 x 300-400 word reports (12.5% each)

These reports will be based on a recent scientific article (from a scientific journal), chosen by each student. Your task is to summarize the scientific content, then to draw out a key philosophical issue as addressed in the course.

Essay (40%):

Essays are 2,500-3,000 words. Lectures and tutorials will advise on essay preparation, and essay guidelines will be posted on Canvas. Topics must be discussed with the lecturer/tutor in advance.  

 

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range

Description

High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.

Distinction

75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.

Credit

65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.

Pass

50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.

Fail

0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see sydney.edu.au/students/guide-to-grades.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Life: definitions, theories, and origins of life, plus artificial/synthetic life Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 02 Life: definitions, theories, and origins of life, plus artificial/synthetic life Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 03 Types of life: species, kingdoms, domains, extraterrestrial life Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 04 Types of life: species, kingdoms, domains, extraterrestrial life Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 05 Evolution of life: evolutionary theory and misconceptions, phylogeny and the molecular clock, tree of life Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 06 Evolution of life: evolutionary theory and misconceptions, phylogeny and the molecular clock, tree of life Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 07 The molecularization of life: DNA discovery, genetic explanations, comparative genomics and molecular evolution Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 08 The molecularization of life: DNA discovery, genetic explanations, comparative genomics and molecular evolution Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 09 Interacting life: ecosystem concepts, ecological theory, humans as ecosystems (microbiomes) Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 10 Interacting life: ecosystem concepts, ecological theory, humans as ecosystems (microbiomes) Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 11 Biomedicine from a microbiology perspective: germ theory, microbiome implications Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 12 Biomedicine from a microbiology perspective: germ theory, microbiome implications Lecture and tutorial (2 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

To gain the participation marks (10%), students are required to attend all lectures and tutorials, and engage in discussion.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings will be posted on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. gain insight into contemporary biological/biomedical practice by examining basic topics such as life, evolution, ecology, genetics, and microbiology
  • LO2. understand core conceptual and theoretical issues and debates in a range of fields in biology/biomedicine
  • LO3. examine scientific texts and identify key philosophical and historical themes for further analysis
  • LO4. develop original arguments for and about biological/biomedical topics
  • LO5. develop the necessary reasoning and communication skills for analysing science in multiple contexts.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered.

Disclaimer

The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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