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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Structure and Courses

The programme, which is a total of 180 credit points, requires students to undertake two specified core courses:

  • Concepts and Issues in Digital Society (20 credits) 
  • Researching Digital Life (20 credits) 

In addition, students are required to choose, under the guidance of the Programme Director, four further option courses that will address digital technologies in a host of contexts, social or cultural theory, or research training, as they prefer (for a total of 80 credits.)

Together, these courses will prepare students for independent dissertation research. The dissertation, a piece of self-designed research with supervisory support, totals 60 credits. 

We are also very excited to offer a new (optional) course for students in the MSc programme: 

"Digital Markets and Society" convened by Dr. Nathan Coombs

What do Uber, The Pirate Bay, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and high-frequency trading have in common? They are all examples of our era’s digital economic transformation. This course explores the societal implications of these new digital marketplaces. From the emergence of the ‘sharing economy’ to the automation of finance, the digital economy is changing the way we work, consume, and secure our future. Delivered by a team of lecturers conducting research on these subjects, this course introduces students to the state of the art in sociological research on digital markets.

The first half of the course addresses the implications of the economic digital transformation. The lectures focus on digital labour and the darkweb. Digital labour is introduced and theorised from neo-Marxian and feminist perspectives in order to gain a critical perspective on its continuities and discontinuities with traditional forms of work. The lectures on the darkweb and illicit practices then interrogate online anonymity and the ethical questions it raises.

The second half of the course focuses on financial markets and their increasing automation over recent decades. The lectures begin by giving a historical account of the emergence of algorithmic and high-frequency trading. The controversies associated with financial automation are then tackled, including regulatory responses. The next lecture interrogates how ‘algorithmic governance’ is taking over many of the administrative functions of the state. The course concludes by examining the idea of a future cashless society.

Lecturers on this course include: Professor Donald MacKenzie, Dr. Angus Bancroft, Dr. Nathan Coombs, and Dr. Karen Gregory 

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