Autumn Semester 2020 takes place in a mixed form of online and classroom teaching.
Please read the published information on the individual courses carefully.

Search result: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2020

GESS Science in Perspective Information
Only the courses listed below will be recognized as "GESS Science in Perspective" courses.

Further below you will find courses under the category "Type B courses Reflections about subject specific methods and content" as well as the language courses.

During the Bachelor’s degree Students should acquire at least 6 ECTS and during the Master’s degree 2 ECTS.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the course again.
Type B: Reflection About Subject-Specific Methods and Contents
Subject-specific courses: Recommended for bachelor students after their first-year examination and for all master- or doctoral students.

Students who already took a course within their main study program are NOT allowed to take the same course again.

All these courses are listed under the category “Typ A”, this means, every student can enroll in these courses.
851-0101-01LIntroduction to Practical Philosophy
Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 credits2GL. Wingert
AbstractPractical philosophy deals in a descriptive and evaluative way with the realm of the practical, that is, with action, practices, norms of action, and values held by people and societies. Ethics and political philosophy are branches of practical philosophy. This introductory course will treat some of the main questions and introduce students to the thinking of central figures in the field.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course, students (1) will be familiar with still highly influential answers to some of the main questions (see below, section "contents") in practical philosophy. (2) They will be able to better evaluate how convincing these answers are. (3) Students' own thinking concerning normative, e.g., ethical issues, will be more precise, due to a more sophisticated use of key concepts such as good, right, morality, law, freedom, etc.
ContentEthics is an account and instruction of the good, that could be reached by conscious, intentional behaviour (=action). Ethics is an essential part of practical philosophy. Therefore one of those central questions, which will be discussed in the course, is:

1. What is the meaning of words like "good" and "bad", used in ethical language? What is meant by "good", if one says: "Working as a volunteer for the <Red Cross> is good"? Does one mean, that doing so is useful, or that it is altruistic, or that is fair?

Further questions, to be discussed in the course, are:

2. Are moral judgements apt to be justified, e.g. judgments like "Lower taxes for rich foreigners in the <Kanton Zug> are unjust" or "Every person ought to be entitled to leave any religious community"? If so, how far a moral judgment's justification can reach? Is one right in arguing: "It is possible to show the truth of the proposition (a):The emissions of nitrogen dioxide in Zurich is far beyond the permissible limit (80 mg/m3). But it is not possible to verify the proposition (b): In our times, the inequal global distribution of wealth is far beyond the permissible limit. Proposition (a) states an objective fact, whereas (b) expresses a mere subjective evaluation, though that evaluation might be widely spread.

3. What are just laws, and what is the relationship between law and morality?

4. Is freedom of a person, though presupposed by criminal law and morality, nevertheless an illusion?

These questions will be partly discussed with reference to seminal authors within the western philosophical tradition (among else Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant). Contemporary philosophers like Jürgen Habermas, Thomas Nagel, Ernst Tugendhat or Bernard Williams will be included, too.
LiteraturePreparatory Literature:

-Dieter Birnbacher, Analytische Einführung in die Ethik, 2. Aufl. Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag 2006.
- Simon Blackburn, Think. A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, Oxford: University Press (=UP) 1999, chapters 3 und 8.
- Philippa Foot, <Virtues and Vices> in: diess., Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002, and <Morality, Action and Outcome>, in: dies., Moral Dilemmas and Other Topics in Moral Philosophy, Oxford: UP 2002.
- H.L.A. Hart, <Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals, in: Harvard Law Review 71 (1958), pp. 593-629.
- Detlef Horster, Rechtsphilosophie zur Einführung, Hamburg: Junius Verlag 2002.
- Robert Kane, <Introduction: The Contours of the Contemporary Free Will Debates>, in: ders., (Hg.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, Oxford 2002.
– Thomas Nagel, The Limits of Objectivity, in: The Tanner Lectures on Human Values 1980, Vol I., ed. Sterling McMurrin , Cambridge et al.: UP 1980, pp. 75-139.
- Ulrich Pothast, <Einleitung> in: ders., (Hg.), Seminar: Freies Handeln und Determinismus, Frankfurt/M.: suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft 1978, pp. 7-31.
- Bernard Williams, Morality. An Introduction to Ethics, Cambridge: UP (=Canto Series) 1976.
- Peter Winch, The Idea of a Social Science, 4.Aufl. London 1965, ch. II.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be a mixture of lecture and seminar. For getting credit points, essays on given or freely chosen subjects have to be written.
851-0585-38LData Science in Techno-Socio-Economic Systems Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 80

This course is thought be for students in the 5th semester or above with quantitative skills and interests in modeling and computer simulations.

Particularly suitable for students of D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MAVT, D-MTEC, D-PHYS
W3 credits3SN. Antulov-Fantulin
AbstractThis course introduces how techno-socio-economic systems in our complex society can be better understood with techniques and tools of data science. Students shall learn how the fundamentals of data science are used to give insights into the research of complexity science, computational social science, economics, finance, and others.
ObjectiveThe goal of this course is to qualify students with knowledge on data science to better understand techno-socio-economic systems in our complex societies. This course aims to make students capable of applying the most appropriate and effective techniques of data science under different application scenarios. The course aims to engage students in exciting state-of-the-art scientific tools, methods and techniques of data science.
In particular, lectures will be divided into research talks and tutorials. The course shall increase the awareness level of students of the importance of interdisciplinary research. Finally, students have the opportunity to develop their own data science skills based on a data challenge task, they have to solve, deliver and present at the end of the course.
Prerequisites / NoticeGood programming skills and a good understanding of probability & statistics and calculus are expected.
851-0708-00LIntroduction to Law
Introduction to Law as GESS Compulsory Elective Course:
Students who have attended or will attend the lecture "Introduction to Law for Architecture" (851-0703-01L), "Introduction to Law for Civil Engineering" (851-0703-03L) or " Introduction to Law" (851-0703-00) , cannot register for this course unit.

Particularly suitable for students of D-HEST, D-MAVT, D-MATL, D-USYS.
W2 credits2VA. Stremitzer
AbstractThis class introduces students to basic features of the legal system. Questions of constitutional and administrative law, contract law, tort law, corporate law, intellectual property law, as well as procedural law are covered.
ObjectiveIntroduction to fundamental questions of public and private law which serves as a foundation for more advanced law classes.
Content1. Öffentliches Recht
Staatsrecht: Funktion und Quellen des Rechts, Aufbau und Organisation des Staates, Grundrechte, Grundzüge des Völker- und Europarechts. Verwaltungsrecht: Verwaltungsverhältnis, Verfügung, Verwaltungsorganisation, Durchsetzung des Verwaltungsrechts, Verwaltungsverfahrensrecht, Grundzüge des Polizei-, Umwelt- und Raumplanungsrechts.

2. Privatrecht
Vertragsrecht: Vertragsfreiheit, Vertragsentstehung, -erfüllung und -verletzung, Grundzüge des Kauf- und Mietvertrags. Haftungsrecht: Verschuldenshaftung und Kausalhaftung, Beschränkung der Haftung. Grundzüge des Gesellschafts,- Immaterialgüter- und Zivilprozessrechts.
LiteratureWeiterführende Informationen sind auf der Moodle-Lernumgebung zur Vorlesung erhältlich (s.
851-0732-03LIntellectual Property: An Introduction Information Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 180

Particularly suitable for students of D-ARCH, D-BIOL, D-CHAB, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MAVT, D- MATL, D-MTEC.
W2 credits2VS. Bechtold, M. W. Schonger
AbstractThe course introduces students to the basics of the intellectual property system and of innovation policy. Areas covered include patent, copyright, trademark, design, know-how protection, open source, and technology transfer. The course looks at Swiss, European, U.S. and international law and uses examples from a broad range of technologies. Insights can be used in academia, industry or start-ups.
ObjectiveIntellectual property issues become more and more important in our society. In order to prepare students for their future challenges in research, industry or start-ups, this course introduces them to the foundations of the intellectual property system. The course covers patent, copyright, trademark, design, know-how protection, open source, and technology transfer law. It explains links to contract, antitrust, Internet, privacy and communications law where appropriate. While the introduction to these areas of the law is designed at a general level, examples and case studies come from various jurisdictions, including Switzerland, the European Union, the United States, and international law.

In addition, the course introduces students to the fundamentals of innovation policy. After exposing students to the economics of intellectual property protection, the course asks questions such as: Why do states grant property rights in inventions? Has the protection of intellectual property gone too far? How do advances in biotechnology and the Internet affect the intellectual property system? What is the relationship between open source, open access and intellectual property? What alternatives to intellectual property protection exist?

Knowing how the intellectual property system works and what kind of protection is available is useful for all students who are interested in working in academia, industry or in starting their own company. Exposing students to the advantages and disadvantages of the intellectual property system enables them to participate in the current policy discussions on intellectual property, innovation and technology law. The course will include practical examples and case studies as well as guest speakers from industry and private practice.
227-0664-00LTechnology and Policy of Electrical Energy StorageW3 credits2GV. Wood, T. Schmidt
AbstractWith the global emphasis on decreasing CO2 emissions, achieving fossil fuel independence and growing the use of renewables, developing & implementing energy storage solutions for electric mobility & grid stabilization represent a key technology & policy challenge. This course uses lithium ion batteries as a case study to understand the interplay between technology, economics, and policy.
ObjectiveThe students will learn of the complexity involved in battery research, design, production, as well as in investment, economics and policy making around batteries. Students from technical disciplines will gain insights into policy, while students from social science backgrounds will gain insights into technology.
ContentWith the global emphasis on decreasing CO2 emissions, achieving fossil fuel independence, and integrating renewables on the electric grid, developing and implementing energy storage solutions for electric mobility and grid stabilization represent a key technology and policy challenge. The class will focus on lithium ion batteries since they are poised to enter a variety of markets where policy decisions will affect their production, adoption, and usage scenarios. The course considers the interplay between technology, economics, and policy.

* intro to energy storage for electric mobility and grid-stabilization
* basics of battery operation, manufacturing, and integration
* intro to the role of policy for energy storage innovation & diffusion
* discussion of complexities involved in policy and politics of energy storage
Lecture notesMaterials will be made available on the website.
LiteratureMaterials will be made available on the website.
Prerequisites / NoticeStrong interest in energy and technology policy.
363-1039-00LIntroduction to NegotiationW3 credits2GM. Ambühl
AbstractThe course combines different lecture formats to provide students with both the theoretical background and the practical appreciation of negotiation. A core element of the course is an introduction to the concept of negotiation engineering.
ObjectiveStudents learn to understand and to identify different negotiation situations, analyze specific cases, and discuss respective negotiation approaches based on important negotiation methods (i.a. Game Theory, Harvard Method).
ContentThe course combines different lecture formats to provide students with both the theoretical background and the practical appreciation of negotiation. A core element is an introduction to the concept of negotiation engineering. The course covers a brief overview of different negotiation approaches, different categories of negotiations, selected negotiation models, as well as in-depth discussions of real-world case studies on international negotiations involving Switzerland. Students learn to deconstruct specific negotiation situations, to differentiate key aspects and to develop and apply a suitable negotiation approach based on important negotiation methods.
LiteratureThe list of relevant references will be distributed in the beginning of the course.
851-0735-14LSeminar Business Law: Contracts for Projects by Mechanical Engineers Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 20

Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT
W2 credits1SP. Peyrot
AbstractThis seminar provides an introduction into the legal aspects of projects in the machine and plant construction industries. The seminar has specific practical focus as a real life case of an industry company will be studied.
ObjectiveIn practice, students will invariably have to assume responsibility for project management. This will also include dealing with legal issues. The seminar offers an introduction into the legal basis and the legal issues of managing projects.

- law of contracts for sales, work and mandate
- specifics of project contracts: definition of scope, distribution of risk and opportunities, warranties, liability
- typical contract clauses, sample agreements
- specific agreements used in the case study
- contracts and claims management

The students will be introduced into the original agreements of the real life case and the responsible persons will give introductions into the legal issues encountered during the completion of the project
Lecture notesThe script will be provided on the moodle platform.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe seminar is not an introductory course. Students are required to have attended an introductory lecture (e.g. Business Law by Dr. Paul Peyrot, Introduction to Law by Prof. Dr. Stefan Bechtold).

For the successful completion of the seminar and for obtaining the grade, all parts of the seminar must be attended. All participants are required to participate in a group effort which has to be presented on the last day of the seminar.

The grade will be a wheighted average of an individual paper based on questions out of the materials (1/3) and the group presentation (2/3).

The seminar will take place on the following days:

- 19 March 2020: Introduction I, 16 - 18
- 26 March 2020: Introduction II, 16 - 18
- 2 April 2020: Whole day seminar (at MAN Energy Solutions Corp., Zurich)
- 14 Mai 2020: Final Session (student presentations), 16-19
851-0609-04LThe Energy Challenge - The Role of Technology, Business and Society Information
Prerequisites: Basic knowledge in economics.
W2 credits2VR. Schubert, T. Schmidt, B. Steffen
AbstractIn recent years, energy security, risks, access and availability are important issues. Strongly redirecting and accelerating technological change on a sustainable low-carbon path is essential. The transformation of current energy systems into sustainable ones is not only a question of technology but also of the goals and influences of important actors like business, politics and society.
ObjectiveIn this course different options of sustainable energy systems like fossile energies, nuclear energy or all sorts of renewable energies are explained and discussed. The students should be able to understand and identify advantages and disadvantages of the different technological options and discuss their relevance in the business as well as in the societal context.
Lecture notesMaterials will be made available on the electronic learning platform:
LiteratureMaterials will be made available on the electronic learning platform:
Prerequisites / NoticeVarious lectures from different disciplines.
851-0591-01LBETH - Blockchain for Sustainability Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
Number of participants limited to 200

Particularly suitable for students of D-INFK, D-MTEC, D-ITET, D-MAVT,D-PHYS
W3 credits4GD. Helbing
AbstractBlockchain and Internet of Things technologies hold the promise to transform our societies and economies. While IoT devices allow us to measure all kinds of activity by humans and machines, the blockchain allows us to securely time-stamp and value this data and even give it a price to trade it on (new) markets. We explore this potential with a specific focus on sustainable development.
ObjectiveThe course provides opportunities to gain fundamental understanding of promising new technologies as well as develop creative decentralized solutions for societal challenges using these technologies.
Participants will learn the fundamentals of blockchain technology, its mechanisms, design parameters and potential for decentralized solutions. Those with software development skills will then further explore the blockchain to develop hands-on decentralized applications and smart contracts. Non-coding participants will further explore how these technologies could be used to design new economic systems. These new cryptoeconomic systems should give citizens multiple incentives to increase cooperation, health, recycling, or education and other positive externalities and to decrease emissions, waste, noise, or stress and other negative externalities. During the hackathon, participants will work in mixed teams on concrete challenges addressing some of the pressing global challenges our societies face, like climate change, financial instability, energy, or mass migration, etc. The aim is to develop decentralized approaches towards a sustainable, sharing circular economy using blockchain and IoT technologies.
Teams will produce a short report (about 10 pages), demonstrate their hackathon prototype based on blockchain technology (Ethereum platform) and present to a interdisciplinary jury on the last day. Throughout the course, participants will hone their critical thinking abilities by leaving their own discipline and discussing best approaches to solve global complex challenges in an international, multi-disciplinary setting with invited subject matter experts and peers from all around the world.
We encourage students with no programming experience, who are interested in the potential of blockchain and IoT to address global challenges, to apply as well!
860-0022-00LComplexity and Global Systems Science Information Restricted registration - show details
Does not take place this semester.
Number of participants limited to 64.

Prerequisites: solid mathematical skills.

Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-MAVT and ISTP
W3 credits2VD. Helbing
AbstractThis course discusses complex techno-socio-economic systems, their counter-intuitive behaviors, and how their theoretical understanding empowers us to solve some long-standing problems that are currently bothering the world.
ObjectiveParticipants should learn to get an overview of the state of the art in the field, to present it in a well understandable way to an interdisciplinary scientific audience, to develop models for open problems, to analyze them, and to defend their results in response to critical questions. In essence, participants should improve their scientific skills and learn to think scientifically about complex dynamical systems.
ContentThis course starts with a discussion of the typical and often counter-intuitive features of complex dynamical systems such as self-organization, emergence, (sudden) phase transitions at "tipping points", multi-stability, systemic instability, deterministic chaos, and turbulence. It then discusses phenomena in networked systems such as feedback, side and cascade effects, and the problem of radical uncertainty. The course progresses by demonstrating the relevance of these properties for understanding societal and, at times, global-scale problems such as traffic jams, crowd disasters, breakdowns of cooperation, crime, conflict, social unrests, political revolutions, bubbles and crashes in financial markets, epidemic spreading, and/or "tragedies of the commons" such as environmental exploitation, overfishing, or climate change. Based on this understanding, the course points to possible ways of mitigating techno-socio-economic-environmental problems, and what data science may contribute to their solution.
Prerequisites / NoticeMathematical skills can be helpful
701-0791-00LEnvironmental History - Introduction and Overview Restricted registration - show details
Change of semester: takes place in spring semester instead of autumn semester.

Number of participants limited to 100.
W2 credits2VM. Gisler
AbstractOur society faces a serious ecological crisis. Of what historical dimension is this crisis? How have human societies already in earlier times changed their environment, and, consequently, perhaps also ours? What were the main ecological challenges for societies and how did they change over time? And how did societies adapt to changing environmental conditions?
ObjectiveIntroduction into environmental history; survey of long-term development of human-nature-interrelations; discussion of selected problems. Improved ability to assess current problems from a historical perspective and to critically interrogate one's own standpoint.
Lecture notesCourse material is provided in digital form.
LiteratureMcNeill, John R. 2000. Something new under the sun: An environmental history of the twentieth-century world, New York: Norton.

Uekötter, Frank (Ed.) 2010. The turning points of environmental history, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Winiwarter, Verena und Martin Knoll 2007. Umweltgeschichte: Eine Einführung, Köln: Böhlau.
Prerequisites / NoticeStudents are asked to write an exam during the last session
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