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2024/25 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 2024/25

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 creating as learning resource about key concepts. In this way, we will co-produce our version of the module. This will enable you to increase your own critical confidence which will help in future academic and professional contexts.


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 encouraged to think about their own case studies and share these through discussion in class, on the online discussion board and the learning resource they create. 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

4. Create a learning resource which defines theoretical concepts and explains them through the use of research and examples

5. Undertake self-directed research to develop further understanding beyond tutor-introduced case studies and reading

Skills outcomes
The students will develop their skills in online discussion through leading and participating in 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. They will also develop their digital communication skills by creating a learning resource using a digital platform. This will also help develop further critical thinking skills through developing a definition of concepts, which will develop creative theoretical thinking, and deeper critical understanding.

Being digital: As part of this module students will develop a range of digital literacy skills, including navigating and participating in an online discussion forum, and using a digital platform creatively to build their own learning resource. Training for this will be provided.


This module will cover areas such as:

- the legal rights of humans and animals

- the comparison of anthropocentric and ecocentric ways of thinking

- posthumanist discussions of human/technology relations

- border studies

- waste and dehumanisation

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours33.00
Private study hours134.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The discussion board will involve peer and tutor formative feedback throughout the module – students will be able to develop their critical thinking through responding to the feedback (in the form of discussion comments) from others. The tutor will provide feedback to individual students which everyone will have access to, so that everyone can benefit from this feedback (each student will get tutor feedback for at least 3 of their posts; the tutor will monitor the board weekly and contribute at least once a fortnight). In addition, the tutor will send each student private feedback about their discussion board posts by week 5 of the module. Students will also have the opportunity to submit up to 2 drafts of their posts in preparation of submission.

The learning resource will be produced in groups; the tutor will provide up to 2 formative feedback meetings with these groups (one in a teaching session, and one outside of a teaching session). The tutor will also feedback on a draft of the learning resource. There will also be an opportunity to get peer feedback in a seminar session.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentOnline discussion board posts – up to 3000 words60.00
AssignmentGroup creation of a learning resource – each individual responsible for equivalent of 1000 words40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

It is possible to participate on the online discussion board after the module has finished (all discussion board posts submitted have to have appeared on the discussion board first). It is possible to create a learning resource individually, if working with a group has not been possible.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:16:09


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