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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LLLC2265 Exploring Contemporary Issues

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Catherine Bates

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will introduce you to some key contemporary social and cultural theories, by focusing on the overall question: ‘What does it mean to be human in the 21st century'? We will approach this question by looking at three interdisciplinary strands, which have developed through the examination of key contemporary questions: - environmental humanities (in which we will examine the human/animal and nature/cultures binaries)- posthumanism (in which we will think about the way technology has mediated our experience of the world) - and- border theory (in which we will consider the impact of national and conceptual borders upon our changing experience of humanity). This module will promote critical engagement with case studies designed to open up discussion about particular contemporary issues, such as the debates around chimpanzees and non-human rights, the ethical implications of a continually developing social media, the difficulties national borders create for indigenous peoples, and the problematic ways marginalised peoples can get classified as less than human by the neoliberal nation-state. We will look at these issues from an interdisciplinary perspective, and use literary texts, documentaries, journal articles and other resources to contribute to pressing contemporary debates. This module will be co-created; while I as the tutor have identified the core themes, you will be sharing your own ideas and research about these through the discussion board on Minerva, and by leading a seminar as part of the group. In this way, we will co-produce our iteration of the module.


This module introduces students to key contemporary debates around what it means to be human in the 21st century. It takes an interdisciplinary approach by drawing upon three broad theoretical areas - the environmental humanities, posthumanism and border studies - which all help consider the way human experience is discussed and mediated in current times. Students learn to apply theoretical concepts and research from these broad areas to a wide variety of case studies in a way designed to help them develop their own independent critical thinking skills - they are also encourage to think about their own case studies and share these through discussion in class, on the online discussion board and in a group student-led seminar. In this way, the module becomes co-created with students and tutors sharing in the curriculum development and overall learning.

Learning outcomes
1. Explain and discuss a range of theories relating to animal studies, border studies and posthumanism
2. Critically apply theoretical concepts, related to animal studies, border studies and posthumanism, to develop an analysis of a range of case studies and representations
3. Communicate ideas and share reflections and resources in dialogue with others on an online discussion forum and in seminars
4. Work with others to lead an interactive group discussion

Skills outcomes
The students will develop their skills in facilitating group discussion (including setting appropriate discussion material), and in leading and participating in online discussion using an online discussion board. This will involve learning to acknowledge and respond to other people's ideas appropriately, as well as presenting their own ideas in a way which encourages others to respond.

Being digital: As part of this module students will develop a range of digital literacy skills. Further details are provided in the module handbook


The module will cover:

- An overview of the concept of contemporary thinking and its impact within different disciplinary contexts.
- An introduction to cutting edge contemporary research
- An in-depth exploration of 3 different contemporary schools of thought
- Ethical issues in contemporary thinking and the impact of contemporary thinking.
The module will use case studies and specific examples relevant to the latest contemporary thinking to illustrate the concept of contemporary thinking and its impact.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours50.00
Private study hours117.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Engaging with online discussion board and online resources 20 hours
Preparation for seminars, including reading, viewing and research 30 hours
Assignment preparation 93 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will get feedback on their discussion board contributions throughout the module (both through tutor contribution to the discussions and individually by email, when requested or appropriate). Each group will get a 30 minute meeting with the tutor to give feedback about their seminar plan. Students can also book in tutorials throughout the module to seek guidance and feedback about the work they are developing for both assignments. There will also be assignment guidance sessions in which students' will give each other feedback - and peer feedback also plays a part in the seminar and the online discussion board.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentGroup seminar leading task with self-reflection (2,000 word equivalent)40.00
AssignmentOnline discussion board activity (3,000 word equivalent)60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 09/05/2022 16:33:44


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