Search result: Catalogue data in Autumn Semester 2016

GESS Science in Perspective Information
Only the topics listed in this paragraph can be chosen as GESS Science in Perspective.
Further below you will find the "type B courses Reflections about subject specific methods and content" as well as the language courses.

6 ECTS need to be acquired during the BA and 2 ECTS during the MA

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 doctoral, master and bachelor students (after first-year examination only).

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

These course units are also listed under "Type A", which basically means all students can enroll
851-0591-00LDigital Sustainability in the Knowledge Society
Particularly suitable for students of D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MATL, D-MAVT, D-MTEC, D-USYS.
W2 credits2VM. M. Dapp
AbstractHow do various interest groups influence the methods of production, distribution, and use of digital resources? Current models focusing on strong intellectual property rights are contrasted with open models like, e.g. Open Source/Content/Access. The course discusses consequences from different models and introduces »digital sustainability« as an alternative vision for society.
ObjectiveAt the heart of the discourse is the handling of digital goods and intellectual property in society. Digitization and the Internet allow handling knowledge in a way, which directly contrasts with the traditional understanding of "intellectual property" and the industries based on it. Starting from economic and legal basics, we compare proprietary and open/"free" models. Sustainable development as a concept is transferred to digital goods, taking into account the particular nature of digital stuff.
After the lecture, you should (hopefully) be able to
- characterize the nature of digital goods vs. physical goods
- critique the basic concepts of copyright and patent rights
- explain the political/legal and economic differences between proprietary and open approaches to the production and use of digital goods
- using an example, explain the meaning of digital sustainability and argue why it is relevant for a knowledge society
- transfer the ideas of the free/open source software model to other digital goods (e.g., open content, open access)
ContentTechnical reality: Within minutes you can make perfect copies of high-value digital goods of knowledge or culture (as text, audio, video, image or software) and distribute them around the globe -- for free. «Digitization plus Internet» allows for the first time in humankind's history the (theoretically) free access and global exchange of knowledge at minimal cost. A tremendous opportunity for societal development, in north and south. «Cool, so what's the problem?»
The problem is, that this reality poses a fundamental threat to today's business model of the knowledge and culture industries (starting from the music label and Hollywood, via publishers, up to software vendors). Powerful commercial interests are at stake as «knowledge» (the fourth factor of production) will become ever more important in the 21st century. Accordingly, «piracy» and «file-sharing» are attacked with all means. At the core lies the question about the design of property in digital assets. For that, we apply a concept of «intellectual property», which is several hundred years old and does not address digtal reality in an adequate manner, sometimes leading to absurd situations. Its original goal seems to get forgotten: to help society develop by spreading knowledge as much as possible.
Using the PC becomes the new cultural technique of the 21st century. In contrast to «reading, writing and arithmetics», this new cultural technique cannot exist in isolation, but depends on a hard- and software infrastructure. This dependency extends to the provider of the infrastructure, who can define technical rules, which can take away or restrict the user's freedom. Even advanced users may have difficulties in recognizing these, often hidden, restrictions and in evaluating their societal relevance. But exactly these invisible consequences we need to understand and investigate, because they decide about access, distribution and usage of digital knowledge.
Comparable to the environmentalist movement of the 60s and 70s, a growing political movement for «Free Software» exists today, with «GNU/Linux» as its most popular symbol. The movement fights against treating software code as private property but as a central cultural good available to all without private interests. Based on the success of the Free Software movement, new initiatives extend the concepts to other domains (e.g. scientific knowledge, music)...
As a «teaser» to the lecture, you are invited to read the essay «ETH Zurich - A Pioneer in Digital Sustainability!». It can be downloaded from
More on starting from September. Stay tuned.
Lecture notesSlides and other material (both usually in English) will be made available on a weekly basis as the lecture proceeds.
LiteratureContent of the following books is covered (PDFs freely available online):
1 Volker Grassmuck, Freie Software - Zwischen Privat- und Gemeineigentum, Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, 2. Aufl. Bonn 2004.
2 François Lévêque & Yann Ménière, The Economics of Patents and Copyright, Berkeley Electronic Press, 2004.
3 Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks, Yale University Press. New Haven 2006.
Other recommended books are:
1 (general) Chris DiBona et al., Open Sources – Voices from the Open Source Revolution, O'Reilly, 1999.
2 (pol. sc.) Steven Weber, The Success of Open Source, Harvard UP, 2004.
3 (law) James Boyle, Shamans, Software, & Spleens - Law and The Construction of the Information Society, Harvard UP, 1996.
4 (law) Lawrence Lessig, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Basic Books, New York 1999.
Prerequisites / NoticeFor administrative and didactic reasons (high level of interaction and credit group assignments on current hot topics), the number of participants is limited to 45.
Of course, any interested person is invited to attend the lecture without doing the group assignment. The website is actively used for the lecture.
851-0125-41LIntroduction Into Philosophy of Technology
Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-MATL, D-MAVT
W3 credits2VO. Müller
AbstractSince antiquity philosophy reflects about and evaluates technology. The technical developments in the 19th and 20th century have led to a autonomous philosophy of technology, which had become important also for other philosophical disciplines (e.g. in Heidegger's philosophy).
ObjectiveThe course gives an overview on the main schools in the philosophy of technology. Students should learn to analyse and evaluate different philosophies of technology (compensation, objectification, externalisation). For credit point a critical protokoll is to be written.
Particularly suitable for students of D-INFK, D-ITET
W2 credits2VD. Rosenthal
AbstractThe course deals with the basic legal framework for doing e-business as well as using information technology. It discusses a variety of legal concepts and rules to be taken into account in practice, be it when designing and planning new media business models, be it when implementing online projects and undertaking information technology activities.
ObjectiveThe objective is knowing and understanding key legal concepts relevant for doing e-business, in particularly understanding how e-business is regulated by law nationally and internationally, how contracts are concluded and performed electronically, which rules have to be obeyed in particular in the Internet with regard to third party and own content and client data, the concept of liability applied in e-business and the role of the law in the practical implementation and operation of e-business applications.
ContentVorgesehene Strukturierung der Vorlesung:

1) Welches Recht gilt im E-Business?
–Internationalität des Internets
–Regulierte Branchen

2) Gestaltung und Vermarktung von E-Business-Angeboten
Verwendung fremder und Schutz der eigenen Inhalte
–Haftung im E-Business (und wie sie beschränkt werden kann)

3) Beziehung zu E-Business-Kunden
–Verträge im E-Business, Konsumentenschutz
–Elektronische Signaturen

4) Verträge mit E-Business-Providern

Änderungen, Umstellungen und Kürzungen bleiben vorbehalten. Der aktuelle Termin- und Themenplan ist zu gegebener Zeit über die elektronische Dokumentenablage abrufbar (
Lecture notesEs wird mit Folien gearbeitet, die als PDF über die elektronische Dokumentenablage (ILIAS) auf dem System der ETHZ vorgängig abrufbar sind. Auf dem Termin- und Themenplan (ebenfalls online abrufbar) sind Links zu Gesetzestexten und weiteren Unterlagen abrufbar. Schliesslich wird jede Vorlesung auch als Podcast aufgezeichnet, der jedoch nur für die Studierenden mit einem Passwort (erhältlich beim Dozenten) zugänglich sind.

Der Termin- und Themenplan ist zu gegebener Zeit über die elektronische Dokumentenablage abrufbar (
LiteratureWeiterführende Materialien, Links und Literatur sind auf dem Termin- und Themenplan aufgeführt (zu gegebener Zeit abrufbar via elektronische Dokumentenablage,
Prerequisites / NoticeDie Semesterendprüfung ist in Form eines schriftlichen Kurztests (normalerweise MC) in voraussichtlich der letzten Doppelstunde geplant. Es wird angegeben, welche Unterlagen beim jeweiligen Thema den Prüfungsstoff definieren. Der Test wird möglicherweise elektronisch durchgeführt.

Ergänzend zu dieser Vorlesung bietet Clemens von Zedtwitz (alternierend) eine Vorlesung zum Thema Telekommunikationsrecht an. Sie befasst sich mit den rechtlichen Grundlagen der Bereitstellung und des Betriebs von Telekommunikationsnetzen. Neben einem geschichtlichen Überblick über die Entwicklung des Telekommunikationsrechts werden die rechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen erläutert, welche für Netzbetreiber in der Schweiz, der EU und den USA massgeblich sind.

Ferner bietet Ursula Widmer eine Vorlesung zum Thema Informationssicherheit an, welche die rechtlichen Aspekte der Sicherheit von ICT-Infrastrukturen und Netzen und der transportierten und verarbeiteten Informationen.
851-0252-01LHuman-Computer Interaction: Cognition and Usability Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 30.

Particularly suitable for students of D-ARCH, D-INFK, D-ITET
W3 credits2SI. Barisic, C. Hölscher, S. Ognjanovic
AbstractThis seminar introduces theory and methods in human-computer interaction and usability. Cognitive Science provides a theoretical framework for designing user interfaces as well as a range of methods for assessing usability (user testing, cognitive walkthrough, GOMS). The seminar will provide an opportunity to experience some of the methods in applied group projects.
ObjectiveThis seminar will introduce key topics, theories and methodology in human-computer interaction (HCI) and usability. Presentations will cover basics of human-computer interaction and selected topics like mobile interaction, adaptive systems, human error and attention. A focus of the seminar will be on getting to know evaluation techniques in HCI. Students form work groups that first familiarize themselves with a select usability evaluation method (e.g. user testing, GOMS, task analysis, heuristic evaluation, questionnaires or Cognitive Walkthrough). They will then apply the methods to a human-computer interaction setting (e.g. an existing software or hardware interface) and present the method as well as their procedure and results to the plenary. Active participation is vital for the success of the seminar, and students are expected to contribute to presentations of foundational themes, methods and results of their chosen group project. In order to obtain course credit a written essay / report will be required (details to be specified in the introductory session of the course).
851-0585-04LLecture with Computer Exercises: Modelling and Simulating Social Systems with MATLAB Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 70.

Particularly suitable for students of D-MAVT, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MTEC, D-PHYS.
W3 credits2SD. Helbing, L. Sanders, O. Woolley
AbstractThis course introduces the mathematical software package MATLAB.

Students should learn to implement models of various social processes
and systems, and document their skills by a seminar thesis, as well as giving a short oral presentation.
ObjectiveThe students should learn how to use MATLAB as a tool to solve
various scientific problems. MATLAB is an integrated environment with a high level programming language which makes it possible to quickly find numerical solutions to a wide range of scientific problems. Furthermore, it includes a rich set of tools for graphically
presenting the results.

After the students have learned the basic structure of the programming language, they should be able to implement social simulation models in MATLAB and document their skills by a seminar thesis and finally give a short oral presentation.
ContentThis course introduces first the basic functionalities and features of the mathematical software package MATLAB, such as the simple operations with matrices and vectors, differential equations, statistical tools, the graphical representation of data in various forms, and video animations of spatio-temporal data. With this knowledge, students are expected to implement themselves in MATLAB, models of various social processes and systems, including agent-based models, e.g. models of interactive decision making, group dynamics, human crowds, or game-theoretical models.

Part of this course will consist of supervised programming exercises in a computer pool. Credit points are finally earned for the implementation of a mathematical model from the sociological literature in MATLAB and the documentation in a seminar thesis.
Lecture notesThe lecture slides will be presented on the course web page after each lecture.
Literature[1] MATLAB Primer, Seventh Edition, Timothy A. Davis and Kermit Sigmon, (Chapman & Hall, 2004).
[2] MATLAB kompakt, Wolfgang Schweizer, (Oldenbourg, 2006)

Further literature, in particular regarding computer models in the
social sciences, will be provided in the course.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe number of participants is limited to the size of the available computer teaching room. The MATLAB code related to the seminar thesis should be well enough documented for further use by others and must be handed over to the Chair of Sociology, in particular of Modeling and Simulation, for further free and unrestricted use.
851-0549-00LWebClass Introductory Course History of Technology Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 100.

Particularly suitable for students of D-BAUG, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MATL, D-MAVT.
W3 credits2VG. Hürlimann
AbstractWebClass Introductory Course History of Technology is an introductory course to the history of technology. The students are challenged to discover how technological innovations take place within complex economical, political and cultural contexts. They get introduced into basic theories and practices of the field.
ObjectiveStudents are introduced into how technological innovations take place within complex economical, political and cultural contexts. They get to know basic theories and practices of the field.
ContentWebClass Einführungskurs Technikgeschichte ist eine webgestützte Einführung in die Technikgeschichte. Technikgeschichte untersucht Angebote technischer Entwicklungen, die in bestimmten historischen Kontexten entstanden und von sozialen Gruppen oder ganzen Gesellschaften als Möglichkeit sozialen Wandels wahrgenommen, ausgehandelt und schliesslich genutzt oder vergessen wurden.
Der Onlinekurs wird von zwei obligatorischen Präsenzveranstaltungen begleitet. Die aktive Teilnahme und das erfolgreiche Bearbeiten von Onlineaufgaben werden vorausgesetzt.
Lecture notesInformationen zur Arbeit mit WebClass finden Sie unter Sobald Sie eingeschrieben sind, haben Sie Zugang zum Skript und zu weiterführenden Materialien.
Prerequisites / NoticeOnlinekurs kombiniert mit zwei obligatorischen Präsenzveranstaltungen. Einführungssitzung: 26.9.2016, zweite Präsenzsitzung: 14.11.2016. Die aktive Teilnahme und das erfolgreiches Bearbeiten von Onlineaufgaben werden vorausgesetzt.
Die Zahl der Teilnehmenden ist auf 100 beschränkt. Anmeldung: In der Einführungssitzung am 26.9.2016, zudem schriftliche Einschreibung sowohl unter wie auch auf dem Olat-Server.
Verspätete Anmeldungen können nicht berücksichtigt werden.

Weitere Informationen unter
851-0735-10LBusiness Law
Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-MAVT
W2 credits2VP. Peyrot
AbstractThe students shall obtain a basic knowledge about business law. They shall be able to recognize and evaluate issues in the area of business law and suggest possible solutions.
ObjectiveThe students shall obtain the following competence:
- They shall obtain a working knowledge on the legal aspects involved in setting up and managing an enterprize.
- They shall be acquainted with corporate functions as contracting, negotiation, claims management and dispute resolution
- They shall be familiar with the issues of corporate compliance, i.e. the system to ascertain that all legal and ethical rules are observed.
- They shall be able to contribute to the legal management of the company and to discuss legal issues.
- They shall have an understanding of the law as a part of the corporate strategy and as a valuable ressource of the company.
Lecture notesA comprehensive script will be made available online on the moodle platform.
851-0594-00LInternational Environmental Politics
Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-USYS
W3 credits2VT. Bernauer
AbstractThis course focuses on the conditions under which cooperation in international environmental politics emerges and the conditions under which such cooperation and the respective public policies are effective and/or efficient.
ObjectiveThe objectives of this course are to (1) gain an overview of relevant questions in the area of international environmental politics from a social sciences viewpoint; (2) learn how to identify interesting/innovative questions concerning this policy area and how to answer them in a methodologically sophisticated way; (3) gain an overview of important global and regional environmental problems.
ContentThis course deals with how and why international cooperation in environmental politics emerges, and under what circumstances such cooperation is effective and efficient. Based on theories of international political economy and theories of government regulation various examples of international environmental politics are discussed: the management of international water resources, the problem of unsafe nuclear power plants in eastern Europe, political responses to global warming, the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer, the reduction of long-range transboundary air pollution in Europe, the prevention of pollution of the oceans, etc.

The course is open to all ETH students. Participation does not require previous coursework in the social sciences.

After passing an end-of-semester test (requirement: grade 4.0 or higher) students will receive 3 ECTS credit points. The workload is around 90 hours (meetings, reading assignments, preparation of test).

Visiting students (e.g., from the University of Zurich) are subject to the same conditions. Registration of visiting students in the web-based system of ETH is compulsory.
Lecture notesAssigned reading materials and slides will be available at (select link 'Registered students, please click here for course materials' at top of that page). Log in with your nethz name and password. Questions concerning access to course materials can be addressed to Mike Hudecheck (Mike Hudecheck <>). All assigned papers must be read ahead of the respective meeting. Following the course on the basis of on-line slides and papers alone is not sufficient. Physical presence in the classroom is essential. Many books and journals covering international environmental policy issues can be found at the D-GESS library at the IFW building, Haldeneggsteig 4, B-floor, or in the library of D-USYS.
LiteratureAssigned reading materials and slides will be available at (select link 'Registered students, please click here for course materials' at top of that page). Log in with your nethz name and password. Questions concerning access to course materials can be addressed to Mike Hudecheck (Mike Hudecheck <>).
Prerequisites / NoticeNone
851-0738-01LThe Role of Intellectual Property in Daily Routine: A Practical Introduction
Particularly suitable for students of D-BAUG, D-ITET, D-MAVT
W2 credits2VC. Soltmann
AbstractThe lecture gives an overview of the fundamental aspects of intellectual property, which plays an important role in the daily routine of engineers. The lecture aims to make participants aware of the various methods of protection and to put them in a position to use this knowledge in the workplace.
ObjectiveIn recent years, knowledge about intellectual property has become increasingly important for engineers. Both in production and distribution and in research and development, engineers are increasingly being confronted with questions concerning the patenting of technical inventions and the use of patent information.

The lecture will acquaint students with practical aspects of intellectual property and enable them to use the acquired knowledge in their future professional life.

Topics covered during the lecture will include:
- The importance of innovation in industrialised countries
- An overview of the different forms of intellectual property
- The protection of technical inventions and how to safeguard their commercialisation
- Patents as a source of technical and business information
- Practical aspects of intellectual property in day-to-day research, at the workplace and for the formation of start-ups.

Case studies will illustrate and deepen the topics addressed during the lecture.

The seminar will comprise practical exercises on how to use and search patent information. Basic knowledge of how to read and evaluate patent documents as well as how to use publicly available patent databases to obtain the required patent information will also be provided.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe lecture is in particular tailored to the needs of the following degree programs: Agricultural science, architecture, civil engineering, computational science and engineering, computer science, electrical engineering and information technology, environmental engineering, geomatic engineering and planning, interdisciplinary sciences, materials science, mathematics, mechanical engineering, physics.

For students of chemistry-related degree programs, the lecture 'Protecting inventions in chemistry' (851-0738-03) will be offered in the autumn semester.
851-0252-02LIntroduction to Cognitive Science Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 70.

Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET
W3 credits2VV. Schinazi, L. Konieczny, T. Thrash
AbstractThe lectures provide an overview of the foundations of cognitive science and investigate processes of human cognition, especially perception, learning, memory and reasoning. This includes a comparison of cognitive processes in humans and technical systems, especially with respect to knowledge acquisition, knowledge representation and usage in information processing tasks.
ObjectiveCognitive Science views human cognition as information processing and provides an inter-disciplinary integration of approaches from cognitive psychology, informatics (e.g., artificial intelligence), neuroscience and anthropology among others. The lectures provide an overview of basic mechanisms of human information processing and various application domains. A focus will be on matters of knowledge acquisition, representation and usage in humans and machines. Models of human perception, reasoning, memory and learning are presented and students will learn about experimental methods of investigating and understanding human cognitive processes and representation structures.
851-0738-00LIntellectual Property: Introduction
Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-MAVT, D-MATL
W2 credits2VM. Schweizer
AbstractThe course provides an introduction to Swiss and European intellectual property law (trademarks, copyright, patent and design rights). Aspects of competition law are treated insofar as they are relevant for the protection of intellectual creations and source designations. The legal principles are developed based on current cases.
ObjectiveThe aim of this course is to enable students at ETH Zurich to recognize which rights may protect their creations, and which rights may be infringed as a result of their activities. Students should learn to assess the risks and opportunities of intellectual property rights in the development and marketing of new products. To put them in this position, they need to know the prerequisites and scope of protection afforded by the various intellectual property rights as well as the practical difficulties involved in the enforcement of intellectual property rights. This knowledge is imparted based on current rulings and cases.

Another goal is to enable the students to participate in the current debate over the goals and desirability of protecting intellectual creations, particularly in the areas of copyright (keywords: fair use, Creative Commons, Copyleft) and patent law (software patents, patent trolls, patent thickets).
851-0585-15LComplexity and Global Systems Science Information
Prerequisites: solid mathematical skills.
Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-MAVT
W3 credits2VD. Helbing, N. Antulov-Fantulin
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 curently 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
851-0306-05LLiterature and Technology - Simulations, Prototypes, Machines
Particularly suitable for students of D-ITET, D-MAVT, D-MATL
W3 credits2SE. Edelmann-Ohler
AbstractLiterature about technology transposes models, products and procedures of scientific progress into the logic of poetry. This literature converts not only technology into fiction, but it also creates new cultural and social contextualisations, which reveal alternative readings of configurations of knowledge.
ObjectiveStudents are familiar with different relations between literature and technology. They can verbalise and analyse central contentions.
ContentIm Seminar lesen wir unter anderem Texte von E.T.A. Hofmann, Franz Kafka, Georg Kaiser und Max Frisch.
851-0551-03LPostal Knowledge and the History of Digital Societies
Particularly suitable for students of D-ARCH, D-BAUG, D-HEST, D-INFK, D-ITET, D-MAVT
W3 credits2SD. F. Zetti
AbstractIn the second half of the 20th century, postal services have dramatically changed. Communication today is computerbased. The lecture offers problem oriented insights into this sociotechnical process of translation.
ObjectiveStudents become familiar with the mutual interdependence of social and technological change that characterises the history of computing and communication.
ContentDie Palette postalischer Produkte, Dienstleistungen und Personalien ist spannend und vielfältig. (Liebes-)Briefe und Geldsendungen, Boten und Anrufer, Geheimnisse und Telefonbücher, analoge Vermittlungen und digitale Übertragungen - auf der Basis von Forschungsliteratur und Archivquellen werden solche Objekte, Figuren und Dienste auf ihre kultur-, technik- und wirtschaftshistorische Dimensionen hin befragt. Der behandelte Zeitraum umfasst das 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, inhaltlich liegt ein Schwerpunkt auf den Jahren ab 1950. In jenen Jahrzehnten wurden der Verkehr und die Korrespondenzen der Post mit den Anforderungen rechnergestützter Verständigung kompatibel. Die Vorlesung bietet einen problemorientierten Einblick in diesen soziotechnischen Übersetzungsprozess.
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