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Designated Emphasis in STS

Program Overview


The Designated Emphasis in Science & Technology Studies offers graduate students in PhD programs the opportunity to expand their studies with a specialization in the methods and theoretical approaches of STS. Any PhD student in good standing is eligible to apply to the designated emphasis and enroll in its courses. Those students whose topic of research includes a focus on the complex interactions among science, technology and society will greatly benefit from the program. Upon completion of the requirements for the DE, students will have this accomplishment noted on their transcripts, and their diploma will indicate a PhD with Emphasis in Science and Technology Studies.

Science and Technology Studies addresses the complexity of the practices of science in laboratories, the pervasive interactions of cultures, societies, governments, social movements, industries, environments and legal regimes with innovations in science and technology, and the increasing demand to study these interactions in an integrated manner. Doctoral students in the STS DE will engage in a sustained analysis of the practices of scientists and engineers and the ways in which the development and production of facts and technologies within the domain of science is a fundamentally social phenomenon. Further, they will explore the inseparability of these social aspects of scientific practice from the ‘impacts’ of science and technology in the broader cultural and political landscape.

The STS DE curriculum is flexible with courses offered across many disciplines. Students are able to choose classes that will widen their range of academic knowledge and improve their research skills, giving them the tools to be successful interdisciplinary scholars. DE students will also benefit from the thriving community of STS scholars on campus, regular STS speaker series, and a range of STS events including the annual Summer Retreat, which draws faculty and grad participants from across the ten UC campuses.


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Affiliated PhD Programs

Anthropology, Cultural Studies, English, Geography, History, Performance Studies, Philosophy, Sociology

Affiliated Faculty

Admissions Criteria

PhD candidates in any department are eligible for admission. The candidate should apply to the Chair of the DE in STS. Applications should include a letter stating how admission to the DE will enhance the applicant’s doctoral work. Applications will be reviewed and selections made by the DE executive committee.


Students are required to complete four courses relevant to the Designated Emphasis. These include 1) STS 200 “Science and Technology Studies,” 2) three other courses in affiliated departments that include a substantive STS approach (with only two of these from the student’s PhD program).

Required Courses:

  • Science and Technology Studies 200: “Topics in Science and Technology Studies” (4)

Elective Courses:

  • History 201S: "Sources and General Literature of History: History of Science and Medicine" (4)
  • Science and Technology Studies 250: “History and Philosophy of Science” (4)
  • Philosophy 208: “Philosophy of Biology” (4)
  • Philosophy 210: “Philosophy of Science” (4)

The following courses have topics that change each year and may also count for the DE. They will be individually approved by the DE Committee:

  • English 233: “Problems in American Literature” (4)
  • English 238: "Science and Science Fiction" (4)
  • Anthropology 210: “Aspects of Culture Structures” (4)
  • Philosophy 220: “Environmental Ethics” (4)
  • Cultural Studies 214 "Studies in Political and Cultural Representations" (4)
  • Critical Theory 200B "Problems in Critical Theory" (4)

Qualifying Examination Requirements:

It is expected that the qualifying exam will include subject matter related to the DE. The Dissertation committee will include at least one DE faculty member who will participate in the examination. Satisfactory performance on the Qualifying Examination for the Ph.D will be judged independently from the performance on the DE.

Dissertation Requirements:

It is expected that the student’s dissertation should contain original research on material connected with Science and Technology Studies. The Dissertation committee will include at least one DE faculty member.

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