SCI173 Understanding Science (8)

This subject explores what science is, how it is practised and its development through history. The subject focuses on the natural sciences (including physics, chemistry, biology and climate change) and includes an introduction to the social sciences. Students will study science as a human activity that has progressed over time to answer interesting and important questions about how science contributes to culture and society. This subject provides students with experiences in scientific process, develops their scientific knowledge, and expands skills in applying scientific methodology to everyday applications. Further, the subject will allow students to experience the scientific process in exciting ways to develop a relationship with the natural world.


Term 1 (75)
On Campus
Albury-Wodonga Campus
Bathurst Campus
Dubbo Campus
Port Macquarie Campus
Wagga Wagga Campus
Western Sydney Institute

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: SCI173. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


Division of Student Services

Enrolment Restrictions

Available only to students in CSU Pathway Program: Diploma of General Studies

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to identify various scientific disciplines, both natural and social, and the approaches they use to build credible knowledge;
  • be able to evaluate the validity and credibility of scientific information;
  • be able to apply the steps of the scientific method in a simple experiment;
  • be able to identify the role of the scientific community and the broader community in the practices of science;
  • be able to discuss ethical considerations in science;
  • be able to discuss how science influences social values and vice versa;
  • be able to outline the history of science and the contribution of scientists to the development of science;
  • be able to use formal academic/professional language and writing to communicate meaning in writing, and apply appropriate referencing; and
  • be able to create and deliver a presentation that communicates meaning in a format that is suitable for the audience.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • The process of science:
  • Universal characteristics of science and the cycle of scientific activity
  • The role of the scientific community and routes to scientific discovery
  • Elements of scientific language (law, theory, hypothesis, metaphor) and principles of critical thinking
  • Determining the veracity of scientific information
  • The scientific method and science as an evolving process
  • Principles of scientific evidence assessment and experimental design
  • The analysis of scientific knowledge and the idea of reductionism
  • Description of ways in which science progresses
  • An overview of: climate change science, physics, chemistry and biology
  • Social aspects of science:
  • Scientific perspectives, including differing approaches to natural and social sciences
  • Public perceptions of science, scientists and their motives
  • Relationship between science and values and ethical problems associated with science
  • Ways in which science influences society and vice versa
  • Historical Aspects of Science:
  • Historical origins of modern science and the future of science
  • Case studies from the history of science and contemporary science


For further information about courses and subjects outlined in the CSU handbook please contact:

Current students

Future students

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2019. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.