BASS Social Anthropology and Philosophy / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
The Human and the Digital

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOAN20871
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


A consequence of the swift uptake of digital and mobile technologies and these technologies becoming rapidly mundane is what is experienced is not necessarily the technology, but immediately cultural inflected types of usage. The course critically examines the relationships between people and the meanings, practices, and experiences of digital technologies from a culturally comparative perspective and situates these relationships within wider historical trajectories and regional media ecologies. Topics covered in the course considers the implications of increasingly digital and automated environments in relation to longstanding themes in social anthropology and provides critical and analytical skills for further inquiry into the relationships between the human and the digital.

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and Understanding: 

  • Discuss contemporary issues relating to socio-cultural aspects of digital technologies, demonstrating a systematic understanding and coherent and detailed knowledge of different theoretical approaches.
  • Discuss digital technologies in relation to the histories, technological developments and media ecologies of different geographical regions; and in relation to specific topics such as political engagement, activism and advocacy, work, gender and ethnicity, infrastructural developments and automation.
  • Apply this knowledge to critically evaluate arguments about a) contemporary possibilities and challenges for increasingly digital environments b) the implications of digital practices, meanings and experiences in the everyday and c) the role of digital technologies in the asymmetries between countries in the Global North and the Global South.

Intellectual skills

Intellectual skills:

  • Synthesise theoretical approaches and ethnographic data in an integrated analysis.
  • Compare, contrast and correlate multiple and diverse sources of data.
  • Frame areas of inquiry and assess the salience of evidence for an argument.
  • Assess the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge in a rapidly changing technological environment.

Practical skills

Practical skills:

  • Distil arguments and synthesise data into critically engaged written form with clarity.
  • Apply competence and creativity in utilising web-based platforms for content creation and sharing.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Transferable skills and personal qualities:

  • Compare, contrast and correlate multiple and diverse sources of data.
  • Conduct independent research with secondary sources and write clear analytical reports.
  • Apply clear communication in group contexts.
  • Adapt to working independently in ways suited to undertaking further training.
  • Demonstrate multiple ways of thinking for framing inquiry.

In addition, there will be weekly Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) to clarify what you should be learning at each stage of this module.

Assessment methods

- Tutorial discussions, weekly.

  • Required reading must be done in preparation for each tutorial.
  • By engaging with the text with your classmates—through discussion, comments, sharing ideas, asking and answering questions—you will develop your critical reading skills and advance your understanding of readings/concepts. Collaboration is a key part of the learning process.

worth 30% - Blog post short essay, 1500 words (maximum, excluding bibliography);


worth 70% - 2500 words (maximum, excluding bibliography) final essay.  The final essay will be a set of questions posed by the lecturer and you will choose one of them to answer.

Formative assessments

  • Although Book Discussions will be student led, I will be present and will respond to questions and issues raised in the sessions.


Feedback methods

You will receive feedback continuously throughout the course from you lecturer and tutor. Your lecturer will engage with your participation in lecture sessions and will discuss tutorials with your tutor. I also encourage you to make a consultation appointment with me during my available office hours.

You will also receive formal written feedback on your group book report and your final essay. The School rule is that you will receive your feedback and marks within 3 weeks.

Recommended reading


  • Costa, Elisabetta, Patricia G. Lange, Nell Haynes and Jolynna Sinanan (eds). 2022. The  Routledge Companion to Media Anthropology. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Horst Heather A. and Daniel Miller (eds). 2012. Digital Anthropology. Oxford: Berg
  • Miller, Daniel, Costa, Elisabetta, Haynes, Nell, McDonald, Tom, Nicolescu, Razvan, Sinanan, Jolynna, Spyer, Juliano and Wang, Xinyuan. 2016. How the World Changed Social Media. London: UCL Press.
  • Pertierra, Anna C. 2018. Media Anthropology for the Digital Age. Cambridge: Polity.

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jolynna Sinanan Unit coordinator

Return to course details