Universität Wien FIND

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233023 SE Social Science Methods for STS Research (2020W)

8.00 ECTS (3.00 SWS), SPL 23 - Soziologie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Adapted Teaching Format
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic the course will be split into two groups of 15 students or less. Each of these groups will be present at every scheduled course unit, but only for 50 minutes each, separated by a ventilation break. The 'research studio' units will take place remotely as home-learning.

Kick-Off Meeting: MO 05.10.2020, 12.30-15.00, Ort: Hörsaal 32/Hauptgebäude!

Final Presentations:
26.01.2021, 09.30-12.30, Ort: Seminarraum STS
28.01.2021, 09.30-12.30, Ort: Seminarraum STS

Wednesday 07.10. 11:15 - 13:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien (Kickoff Class)
Wednesday 14.10. 11:15 - 13:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Wednesday 21.10. 11:15 - 13:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Wednesday 28.10. 11:15 - 13:30 Seminarraum STS, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/6. Stock, 1010 Wien
Wednesday 04.11. 11:15 - 13:30 Digital
Wednesday 11.11. 11:15 - 13:30 Digital
Wednesday 25.11. 11:15 - 13:30 Digital
Wednesday 02.12. 11:15 - 13:30 Digital
Wednesday 09.12. 11:15 - 13:30 Digital
Wednesday 13.01. 11:15 - 13:30 Digital
Wednesday 20.01. 11:15 - 13:30 Digital
Tuesday 26.01. 09:30 - 12:30 Digital
Thursday 28.01. 09:30 - 14:30 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

In common understanding, research methods are the tools social scientists employ to study, represent and understand the social world. Picking the right method to study a research question is crucial for doing successful research, and requires in depth knowledge of the different tools available, and of their possibilities and limits. However, particularly for STS scholars, using and developing methods needs to involve more than just finding the right tool for the job. One of the most central goals of STS is to study how sciences and their methods construct the way we understand and act upon the world, and the political consequences this has. Representing ‘social realities’ thus always also means to perform them and to intervene in them. Hence, a central challenge for STSers is to reflect on the performativity of method, that is on how our use of methods impinges on how we account for our objects of inquiry - and which versions of reality are foregrounded and which are rendered invisible by particular ways of describing the social. As such, learning how to do methods in STS always also entails working on one’s own reflexive capacities and epistemological positions. Focussing on methods of qualitative research, this course will give students the opportunity to gain an overview of some of the main tools available to social scientists, to discuss how STS scholars have applied these tools, to critically evaluate the possibilities and limits of these approaches, and also to gather some very first experiences in applying them.

Learning aims
a) to acquire basic knowledge of the most common (qualitative) social science research methods;
b) to be able to read and summarize methods texts;
c) to read and discuss how STS researchers have employed these methods;
d) to be able to ask first simple research questions and to pick methods suitable to answer them;
e) to gather first practical experiences in applying social science research methods;
f) to understand why reflexivity in using and developing methods is of key importance particularly to STS researchers;

Assessment and permitted materials

To pass the seminar, students are expected to complete the following tasks:
1. Read and discuss the required readings, participate in the in-class and the online activities.
2. Complete the online assignments in the research studios.
3. Gather practical experiences by doing and transcribing one qualitative interview.
4. Find and discuss examples in the STS literature for all methods discussed
5. Apply the methods to the cases discussed across the introductory courses, and develop a research exposé in their case group.
6. Adhere to the general standards of good academic practice.

This course uses the plagiarism-detection service Turnitin for larger assignments.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The grading scheme is based on a total of 100 points. These points will be awarded in relation to students’ performance in meeting the course learning aims in the different obligatory tasks.
The maximum number of points to be acquired for each task is:

Test: 20 points, assessed individually, feedback on request;
Research studio assignments: 20 points, assessed as group work,
feedback by lecturer;
Fieldwork practice: 20 points, assessed individually, feedback by lecturer;
Development and written and oral presentation of the Research Exposé: 30 points (20 result, 10 process), assessed as group work,
feedback by lecturer;
In class participation: 10 points, assessed individually, feedback on request;

Minimum requirements
A minimum of 50 points is necessary to successfully complete the course. Failure to meet the attendance regulations, to deliver course assignments on time or to adhere to standards of academic work may result in a deduction of points.

Delays and formal issues
Every time a student misses a deadline 5 points will be deducted from their individual account. The only exception to this rule is if there is a major and unpredictable reason for not being able to fulfill the task on time on the student's side. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate this in a timely manner, and to provide relevant evidence to their claims if necessary. After missing a deadline, the lecturer will set a second deadline for handing in the assignment. If this second deadline is again not met, the student may be de-registered from the course and the course graded as a 'fail' (5) - see below.
Each paper which is handed in with major formal shortcomings, either relating to academic standards of referencing and citing, or to the formal requirements sketched above, will result in 5 points being deducted from the student’s account. For group work, the same penalties will apply to each member of the respective group.

100-87 points Excellent (1)
86-75 points Good (2)
74-63 points Satisfactory (3)
62-50 points Sufficient (4)
49-0 points Unsatisfactory (5) (fail)

Examination topics

Reading list

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 11.12.2020 10:08