HPSC1070 Living with Technology

Reading List

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

This module will use a series of online case studies to encourage students to reflect on the nature of our relationship with technology. Case studies will include both familiar, everyday technologies, such as mobile phones, and more specialised devices, such as hearing aids, to help students to consider such questions as: What role does technology play in forming the identity of individuals in everyday interactions? Do we use technology as an instrument to achieve our human aims or is it an independent force that determines conditions of our lives? What role does technology play in our experience of, and attitude towards, disability, gender or culture?


  • 1. To encourage students to reflect on their own everyday use of and interaction with various technologies
  • 2. To develop students’ understanding of the ways in which technology both responds to and influences the human condition.
  • 3. To introduce students to key philosophical and historical claims about technology


  • 1. Introduction: why is it important to think about technology?

Consideration of the role technology plays in our lies. Introduction to central questions on technology and analytical positions on technology.

  • 2. Technology, Control and Progress

Is technology an instrument under human control or an independent force determining conditions of human life? Reflection on whether our own use of various technologies is instrumental or determined. What has been the role of technology in relation to progress? Analysis of instrumentalist vs determinist and optimistic vs pessimistic views on technology-progress relationship.

  • 3. Technology, Culture and Nature

What is culture – is it distinct from technology? Is the culture of modern life defined by technological artefacts, frameworks and imperatives? To what extent is technology distinct from or opposed to ‘nature’? Has biotechnology served to improve ‘nature’ and human control of it?

  • 4. Technology and Identity

What role does technology play in forming the identity of individuals in everyday interactions? How do uses of technology affect both our self-image and how others view us? To what extent/in what ways is technology used to define masculine and feminine behaviours? Can technological usage serve to challenge traditional notions of gender difference?

  • 5. Technology, Dis/ability and Risk

To what extent does technology alleviate disability? What is the role of technology in different models of disability? How do assistive technologies affect perceptions of disabled identity? Technology and transhumanism: does technology enhance or threaten human identity and endeavour? Is this risk, and others associated with many technologies an acceptable, inevitable consequence of technological progress? Are the solutions to such risks to be found in more or less technological intervention?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • 1. use a range of analytical themes to discuss the significance of technology in the modern world;
  • 2. critically examine their own relationship with technologies in the context of key philosophical and historical claims about the role of technology in human life;
  • 3. use evidence from case-studies and independent research on past and present technologies in critical discussion.

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 1 x 1500 words 50
Online Assessment 300 word blog entry per online unit (every 2 weeks): 1500 words total 50
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 100

Private Study

Reading recommended texts
Internet research on course topics
Research for assessed essay

Progress Monitoring

Students access to course materials will be monitored via the VLE.
Student blog posts will be monitored to ensure they are engaging with the online materials.
Discussion in seminars will allow assessment of student understanding of course materials.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
On-line Learning 5 3 15
Discussion forum 5 2 10
Seminar 5 1 5
Private Study Hours 70
Total Contact Hours 30
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 100

Reading List

Reading List
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