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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC1400 Technology in the Modern World

10 creditsClass Size: 150

In light of the effect of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions on students' learning experiences, the School of PRHS have made the decision to modify assessment in Semester 2 modules in the 2020-21 academic year. Changes may involve reducing the number of assessment points (e.g. assessing one essay rather than two) or reducing word counts where it is possible to do so whilst protecting the integrity of the module's Learning Outcomes. Information on any changes to assessment is available to enrolled students in the Minerva module area, and can also be sought from the module leader or the PRHS SES team.

Module manager: Dr Simone Turchetti
Email: s.turchetti@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

What is the significance of technology in modern life? Is it simply a tool for us to explore exciting and interesting possibilities for dealing with the world more effectively? Or is it a monster that takes away our freedom by forcing us to adapt to its demands for greater efficiency and order? This debate between instrumentalist vs. determinist conceptions of the power of technology is the central concern in this course. To get a grip on the debate we will look at the relationship between technology and power, particularly in relation to Bacon's notion of 'knowledge as power', and the ways in which technology creates both new practical possibilities and new constraints for humanity. From that standpoint we will analyse how technology has been understood and defined in relation to such key concepts as progress, modernity, nature, gender, identity and culture. By studying texts written by a range of historians and philosophers (including Marx and Heidegger) this course will enable you to formulate your own conclusions. To facilitate discussions, case studies will be taken from the following areas: radio and television, computing, nuclear power, bio-agricultural technology, domestic technology, non-Western and colonial/imperial technology, and the technologies of death in the Nazi Holocaust.

Objectives

By the end of the course students SHOULD be able to
i) use a range of analytical themes to discuss the significance of technology in the modern world
ii) critically examine key philosophical and historical claims about the role of technology in the modern world
iii) use evidence from case-studies on past and present technologies in critical discussion

Syllabus

The relationship between technology and power: technology as a resource for 'power over' vs. 'power to', Bacon's notion of 'knowledge as power' in the use of technology; instrumentalist vs. determinist conceptions of the power of technology in everyday life.

Analytical themes of progress, modernity, nature and naturalness, gender, identity and culture in understanding the significance of technology. Critical comparison of perspectives from major authors in the field.

Case studies to include the following: radio and television, computing, nuclear power, bio-agricultural technology, domestic technology, non-Western technologies and colonial/imperial technologies.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Lecture111.0011.00
Tutorial51.005.00
Private study hours84.00
Total Contact hours16.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1 x 1,500 word essay & 1 x 1hr exam

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,500 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated


Exams
Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 17/04/2009

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