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History of Technoscience

Code: 106242 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2504235 Science, Technology and Humanities OB 3 1


Agusti Nieto Galan

Teaching groups languages

You can check it through this link. To consult the language you will need to enter the CODE of the subject. Please note that this information is provisional until 30 November 2023.


This subject is related to other courses in the degree such as: Social History of Knowledge (Course 4, 1st semester); Scientific Communication (2nd semester, 3rd year); Management and Evaluation of Science (Course 14, 3rd to 5th semester). Proficiency in the English language is recommended for reading comprehension. Fortunately, however, the majority of readings can be done in Spanish.

Objectives and Contextualisation


This subject analyzes the changing and flexible boundaries between science and technology in the contemporary era, from the French Revolution to the multipolar and global world of the 21st century.

"Technoscience" is presented as an open concept that can be applied to different examples and historical periods, helping us identify the deep relationships between theoretical knowledge, practical skills and materials, and their social, cultural, and political dimensions.

In the studied period, we can observe the transition from a classical model of knowledge (in a broad sense of the term), one of "pure" science, relatively "autonomous," hierarchical, focused on the academic world, to a new knowledge inevitably linked to the industrial/business world, more uncertain and dependent on the opinions of the global public sphere.


  • Construct discourse on scientific and technical knowledge using the linguistic resources of argument.
  • Develop and evaluate interdisciplinary projects that combine scientific, technological and humanistic knowledge and encourage citizens' involvement in matters related to science and technology in society.
  • Make critical use of digital tools and interpret specific documentary sources.
  • Recognise the political, social and cultural dimension of science and technology development in the different historical periods.
  • Students must be capable of communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Assess the reliability of sources, select important data and cross-check information.
  2. Develop a critical awareness of how scientific knowledge circulates and of its dynamic status between experts and non-experts.
  3. Explain the role of transmission and analysis of scientific knowledge in a democratic society.
  4. Formulate scientific museography projects.
  5. Identify and critically analyse the relationships between power, productive system and technological development.
  6. Take part in collective practices of cultural comprehension of advances in science and technology.


1. Introduction: Regimes of knowledge and techno-science. Theoretical perspectives.
2. Nineteenth-century industrial science: steam, electricity, and chemistry.
3. Urban modernity: public health, transportation, museums.
4. Instruments of the Empire: revisiting colonial technoscience.
5. Technoscience and World Wars.
6. Technoscience and the Cold War.
7. Technoscience and globalization.


The course combines theoretical lectures with in-class debates.

It is divided into two blocks:

Block A includes the general historiographic framework of the course and a chronological approach to 19th-century technoscience: from the French Revolution to the turn of the century in 1900.
Block B studies the role of technoscience in the 20th century: from the World Wars to the Cold War and the turn of the century in 2000.

The bibliography and working materials for each topic will be published on the virtual campus.


Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Discussion in the classromm 16 0.64 2, 5, 6, 1
Lecture 33 1.32 3, 5, 1
Type: Supervised      
Tutorials and essay supervision 5 0.2 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1
Type: Autonomous      
Individual study 87 3.48 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1


The evaluation will consist of:

A) Two partial exams (30% + 30%), one for each block of the course. The format will be announced well in advance.

B) Two written exercises (20% + 20%), one for each block of the course. The format will be announced well in advance.

In case the exams cannot be conducted in person, their format will be adapted (while maintaining their weighting) to the possibilities offered by the UAB's virtual tools. Assignments, activities, and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis, and/or exercise discussions via Teams, etc.

The professor will ensure that students can access them or offer alternative means within their reach. All evaluation activities will have their corresponding review, either in person or virtually. At the time of each evaluative activity, the professor will inform the students (Moodle) of the procedure and date for reviewing the grades.

To pass the course, a minimum average of 5 is required. Students will receive a "Not evaluable" grade if they have not submitted more than 30% of the evaluation activities. If a student engages in any irregular behavior that could significantly affect the grade of an evaluation activity.

In order to participate in the recovery, students must have been previously assessed in a set of activities that account for at least 2/3 of the total grade. The minimum average grade for the evaluated activities cannot be lower than 3 nor higher than 5.
The recovery will consist of resubmitting the suspended assessment tasks in a format that will be announced with sufficient advance notice.

 One-off assessment. The student who has taken up the One-off Assessment mode will do a final test that will consist of an exam in the classrrom (60%) and will hand out a written essay (40%)

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Partial Exam Block A 30% 1.5 0.06 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1
Partial Exam Block B 30% 1.5 0.06 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1
Written essay Block A 20% 3 0.12 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1
Written essay Block B 20% 3 0.12 2, 3, 5, 6, 4, 1



Agar, Jon (2012), Science in the Twentieth Century and Beyond. Cambridge: Polity.

Bowler, Peter; Morus, Iwan Rhys (2007), Panorama general de la ciencia moderna Barcelona: Crítica. Ed. en anglès: 2005.

Edgerton, David (2007), Innovación y tradición. Historia de la tecnología moderna. Barcelona: Crítica. Ed. en anglés: The Shock of the Old. Technology and Global History since 1900. London: Profile Books, 2006.

Fara, Patricia (2009). Science. A Four Thousand Year History (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Trad. cast.: Breve historia de la ciencia (Barcelona: Ariel, 2009).

Fox, Robert; Guagnini, Anna (1998). Laboratories, workshops, and sites. Concepts and practices of research in industrial Europe, 1800–1914. Special issue (1) of Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 29.

Galison, Peter; Hevly, Bruce, eds. (1992). Big Science. The Growth of Large-Scale Research (Standford: Standford University Press).

Harding, Sandra G. (2011) The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader. Durham: Duke University Press.

Hobsbawm, Eric J. (1978) La Era del capitalismo. 3a ed (Barcelona: Labor)

Hobsbawm, Eric J. (1998) La Era del Imperio, 1875-1914 (Barcelona: Crítica)

Hobsbawm, Eric J. (2003) La Era de la Revolución, 1789-1848. 2a ed (Barcelona: Crítica)

Hobsbawm, Eric J. (2008) Historia del siglo XX : 1914-1991 (Barcelona: Crítica)

Joerges, Bernhard; Shinn, Terry, eds. (2001). Instrumentation. Between Science, State and Industry (Dordrecht: Kluwer).

Judt, Tony (2010) Postwar : a History of Europe Since 1945 (London: Vintage).

Judt, Tony et al (2012) Pensar el siglo XX. (Madrid: Taurus).

Knight, David (1988), La era de la ciencia. Pirámide. Madrid 1988.

Krige,John; Pestre, Dominique, eds. (2003). Companion to Science in the Twentieth Century. Amsterdam: Harwood.

Latour, Bruno (1988). The Pasteurization of France. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. Trad. de Les microbes : guerre et paix, suivi de irréductions (Paris: Editions A. M. Métailié, 1984).

Nieto-Galan, Agustí (2011) Los públicos de la ciencia : expertos y profanos a través de la historia. Madrid: Marcial Pons (DDD: https://ddd.uab.cat/record/188614). Ed. en anglès: 2016. 

Nye, Mary Jo (1996). Before Big Science. The Pursuit of Modern Chemistry and Physics1800–1940. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press).

Pestre, Dominique (2008), Ciència, diners i política (Santa Coloma de Queralt: Obrador Edèndum; Publicacions URV. D. Pestre, Science, argent et politique. Un essai d’interprétation Paris: INRA, 2003. D. Pestre, Ciencia, dinero y política. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Nueva Visión, 2005

Sánchez Ron, José Manuel (2006). El poder de la ciencia. Historia social, política y económica de la ciencia, siglos xix y xx (Barcelona: Crítica).

Walker, Mark (2003). Science and Ideology. A Comparative History (London: Routledge).


Specific software is not required.