School of Social and Political Science

Social Studies of Information and Communication Technologies


Research in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) on social studies of information and communication technologies examines how ways of knowing and organising are transformed through the creation of infrastructures of computer-mediated communication and data-based decision making, and how society, organisations and individuals respond to these transformations. We bring a wide variety of social science methods and perspectives to the study of information systems, computer-mediated life, data science, artificial intelligence, the internet, IT-based devices and services, and the social formations they support. We examine these in the context of business, health and social care, cities, public policy, finance, epidemiology and other domains across society. We also use and explore emerging ways of studying these phenomena using the devices, techniques and data linked to these environments.

Our work is distinguished by a tradition of more than three decades of investigating the social dimensions of innovation in information and communication technology in collaboration with research and practice partners within the University and across Europe and the world. We have drawn especially on our embedding in in the University of Edinburgh‘s exceptionally strong research community in computing, artificial intelligence and data, including partnerships with the Alan Turing Institute, the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, the University of Edinburgh Business School, and the Bayes Centre, Usher Institute and the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

Our research-led teaching includes contributions to:

  • Responsible research and practice training for advanced students in fields related to data and computing
  • The MSc programme in Data Science Technology and Innovation
  • Dynamic interdisciplinary undergraduate and postgraduate courses and seminar series exploring current events and debates on societal impacts of data and information technology
  • Supervising interdisciplinary master's and doctoral students bridging STS, and Criminology, Informatics, Politics, Sociology, Business, Law, Sport and Exercise, Astronomy, etc.

Current key projects and collaborations

We have a series of joint awards with the Usher Institute and the University of Edinburgh Business School, particularly in the area of e-health including:

Awards with the Turing Institute: 

Awards with the Edinburgh Futures Institute: 

Awards with UK partners on computational social research tools


We maintain strong links with centres such as:

  • Institut for Informatikk (University of Oslo)
  • Human-Centred Computing Division (University of Warwick)
  • Centre for Social Data Science (University of Copenhagen)
  • Norwegian University of Science & Technology Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (Mines ParisTech)
  • University of Trento (Italy)
  • Center for Science Technology Medicine & Society (UC Berkeley)
  • Chinese Academy of Science

Additional Information

Our research cluster contributes to the Data Ethics, AI and Responsible Innovation online course (MOOC).

This freely accessible short course is a perfect introduction to the topics the people in our cluster research.

Knowledge Exchange and Impact
Our researchers are very active in knowledge exchange and impact (KEI) activities relating to our research areas. Some examples include:

  • Advising (and training) health service leaders on digital transformation strategy about the results of our evaluation of NHS England’s global digital exemplar programme
  • Research feeding into using electronic prescribing tools to increase patient safety and promote antimicrobial stewardship.
  • Data Justice Week in May 2019. This was a successful hackathon allowing data activists and civic hacking groups to challenge anti-democratic practice and injustice, attended by 175 people.
  • Player Pathways - Turing fellowship data study group. This group helped users understand the career paths of professional footballers better in one week than the Head of Football Operations at Real Madrid had been able to do for three years, according to one user.
  • Projects and partnerships with local organisations developing data-led evidence and innovation and practices with the Edinburgh Living Lab.

Related people and projects