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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC5970M History and Philosophy of Technology

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Sarah Christensen

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications


This module is mutually exclusive with

PHIL3855Philosophical Issues in Tech

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module supports students in deepening their understanding of the technological world and the historical and philosophical principles used to interpret it. The module will introduce students to changing conceptualizations of technology and the controversies surrounding technological change. We will evaluate a range of alternative explanations of why technological change occurs, and examine the far-reaching social consequences of it.


The module integrates the historiography and philosophy of technology to develop a critical understanding of explanations of technological change in relation to changing conceptual categorizations of technology over the last two millennia.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students should have acquired

1. Advanced knowledge and understanding of issues in the Philosophy of Technology

2. Advanced knowledge and understanding of issues in the Historiography of Technology

3. Ability to produce a critical and nuanced written account from a range of relevant material, identifying areas for further research

4. Ability to work independently, making appropriate use of supervision structures


The module will provide detailed discussions of contemporary issues in the history and philosophy of technology, including some controversial claims about the relationships between class, gender, and race in technology, and investigate the role played by cultural values and ethical principles in shaping technology. Questions covered may include the following:

What has been the longer-term significance of the ancient distinction between ‘techne’ and ‘episteme’? How relevant is Marx’s Capital in analysing longue durée technological change? What do the differences between the terms Die Technik, La Technique and Technics reveal? Why did Technology replace Mechanism as the key terminology in the twentieth century? Has Technoscience rendered the notion of Applied Science superfluous?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours276.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

8 hours per seminar reading - 88 hours
Further reading – 88 hours
Essay preparation – 2 x 50 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar performance/discussion and 1 x 3000 word essay (assessed or rough draft). Tutorials, plus feedback on essay plans.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay(3000 words)60.00
Essay(3000 words)40.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:44:02


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