The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences is involved in research and teaching. It offers higher degree programmes leading to the award of Doctoral and Master’s degrees. The Master’s programme in General Studies, M.Sc. (Tech), is oriented along the streams of Media and Communication as well as Development Studies.
“What do we propose to do here? We want to teach real science, whether it is engineering, chemistry, humanities, physics or any other branch. We want to develop a scientific approach in Pilani, which means there would be no dogma. There will be a search for truth.”
Vision of Ghanshyam Das Birla, founder of BITS Pilani
The study of humanities was thus part of the founding vision of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. This enabling vision, represented by the lotus at the heart of the emblem of BITS Pilani, continues to guide the Institute in its plan document Vision 2020: Mission 2015 that envisages an ever greater emphasis for the humanities in the curriculum, making it mandatory for all degree programmes.
With twenty faculty members working in and across the disciplines of Communication Studies, Development Studies, Digital Media, Film Studies, Geography, History, Language, Literature, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology and Public Administration, the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences offers over thirty elective courses -on an average, per semester- for students across disciplines and degree programmes. The laboratories for languages, music and Creative Media along with a rich collection of materials in the BITS Pilani Library are vital elements in the pedagogy of the courses taught here. Many of these are interdisciplinary, and all courses combine rigour with variety in both teaching and learning, which is a legacy bequeathed by a tradition of over five decades.
The study of humanities and languages in Pilani may be traced back to 1943, when the Birla Intermediate College became a Degree College. With the founding of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science as a degree awarding university in 1964, undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in the humanities were initiated. Since then, BITS Pilani has witnessed continuous moulting in the study of the humanities. The degree programmes of B.A (General) and M.A in Economics, English, Hindi, History, and Political Science were initiated in 1964 and continued until 1973-4, facilitating a reordering of the internal organizational structure with the formation of cluster groups in Economics, Humanistic Studies, and Languages. The Humanistic Studies group and the Languages group were transformed into independent departments, and remained so until 2012, when the two coalesced into the Department of Humanities and Languages. However, many research projects and taught courses offered by the Department contain elements from the Social Sciences. In recognition of this interdisciplinary character as well as to bring uniformity in nomenclature across the four campuses of the University, the Department was renamed as Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in October 2013.