- Academic Registry
Programme & Unit Catalogues

PL21059: Technology and politics: disruption, regulation, misinformation

[Page last updated: 02 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Intermediate (FHEQ level 5)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW100
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Assessment detail for this unit will be available shortly.
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: By the end of this unit, students will be able to:
* Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the history of technological innovation and the political crises that they have helped to shape;
* Understand the role played by technology in politics today and discern the challenges that they bring to voters, democracies and social movements;
* Explain and critically assess the main theoretical approaches in the academic literature on technology;
* Recognise the inherent racial, gender and class biases of technology;
* Evaluate the debate on the regulation of tech companies, analyse policy propositions, and learn about the latest technological innovation (social media algorithms, drones, blockchain, etc.).
* Critically engage with alternative futures enabled by contemporary and prospective technologies.

Aims: This unit explores the influence of technology on politics, including the roles of digital tools and industry.
It aims to provide you with the analytical basis to diagnose, reflect and respond to the relation between technology and politics. You will develop a set of critical tools to analyse technological disruption, and (potential) regulation in a wide range of areas, including artificial intelligence, social media, blockchain and autonomous systems.
You will learn about moments in the history of technology and the problems of adjustments between social and technical systems. Finally, you will be invited to discuss emerging potentialities and alternative futures.

Skills: Students will:
* Develop their analytical and critical skills further (T;F;A);
* Learn to listen to each other and learn from others (F);
* Gain invaluable research skills by gathering information, data, research and literature from a number of different sources (i.e. library, web-based, archives etc.) (T;A);
* Develop their writing skills further, and gain in-depth knowledge about the technology of their choice (T;A);
* Acquire the ability to present an argument clearly, concisely, and effectively (T;F);
* Acquire the necessary technical vocabulary to critically reflect on the media's discourse on technology (T;F);
* Develop time-management skills (T);
* Acquire important practical skills and employability by researching and learning about new technologies (T;F).

Content: Indicative content of the unit:
* History of technology
* Problematisation of technology: theoretical and critical perspectives
* Ideology and technology: the invention of cyberspace and the World Wide Web in the 1990s
* The power of the algorithm and digital bias
* Surveillance and platform capitalism
* Social media and fake news
* Technology in world politics
* Technology and regulation
* Is technology the solution?

Programme availability:

PL21059 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies
  • UHPL-AFB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AAB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AKB30 : BSc(Hons) Politics and International Relations with Year long work placement (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AAB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • UHPL-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Politics with Economics with Year long work placement (Year 2)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.