Navigating the Digital World

The details
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre (ISC)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
25 July 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

What does it mean to be a 'digital citizen'? As increasing portions of our personal and professional lives are played our online, acquiring the ability to effectively use digital interfaces and think critically about them is an ever more urgent task, as well as a topic of fierce debate. While some allege that we live in a 'post-fact' era filled with 'fake news' that limits our worldview, others see in digital technologies the key to unlocking social change and bringing people together in new ways across geographical boundaries.

The digital revolution is constantly reshaping our world in a myriad of ways: from surveillance laws to social mobilisation; from innovative business models to open access information; from warfare strategy to medical treatment. Not only this, the way we construct our individual identities, build communities, protect human rights, and promote the humanities is increasingly mediated through online platforms, and contingent on the uneven access that global communities have to technology.

This module is designed to provide you with the practical skills required to navigate the increasingly digital world we live in, and to open up an important critical, interdisciplinary space; you will be encouraged to consider its legal, ethical, social, political, creative and economic implications.

Some of the key questions we'll be addressing are:

How are digital technologies transforming society?
To what extent digital technologies curb or enhance our rights and freedom?
Which are the digital skills needed for the knowledge economy and a democratic society?
How can we build and use our online identities?
How might we use digital technologies as creative and engaging forms of communication?

Autumn Term: The Technology-Enhanced Learning Team (TELT) will lead two-hour sessions in an IT Lab. Each session will provide training in a specific topic such as digital identities, e-safety, blogging, social media, multimedia production, and intelligent search strategies. Throughout the term, students will build a digital portfolio which will include a reflective report on their past, present and future use of technology.

Spring Term: Lecturers from different disciplines across the University will lead a series of weekly lectures, which will combine theoretical questions with real-life scenarios to explore issues such as hacking, social media, ethics, digital crime, video games and interactive technologies. These sessions are devised to help students gain a broad awareness of, and to think critically about, the ways that digital technologies are reshaping contemporary societies.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

To acquire specific skills in the use of digital tools and online platforms.
To introduce selected debates surrounding the development and use of digital technologies.
To gain a critical understanding of the ethical, technical and social dimensions in the development and use of digital technologies.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you should have:

A deeper understanding of digital literacies, as well as the confidence and ability to use a broad range of digital technologies.
The ability to discuss the material covered on the module and to demonstrate this competence through coursework, seminar discussions and the creation of a digital portfolio.
A good understanding of the topics and debates that are central to the digital world.
Confidence in using a number of specialised terms and terminology on digital technologies.
The ability to distinguish elements of continuity and disjuncture in the development of digital technologies.
An understanding of the impacts of digital technologies on society and human life.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This 20-week module is structured around 1 introductory lecture followed by 9 two-hour lab sessions (Autumn Term) and 10 one-hour lectures and 10 one-hour seminars (Spring Term).


  • Lee, In. (2017-05) 'Big data: Dimensions, evolution, impacts, and challenges', in Business Horizons. vol. 60 (3) , pp.293-303
  • Coleman, E. Gabriella; Golub, Alex. (2008-09) 'Hacker practice', in Anthropological Theory. vol. 8 (3) , pp.255-277
  • Silberman, Neil. (©2008) 'Chasing the Unicorn? The quest for 'essence' in digital heritage', in New heritage: new media and cultural heritage, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.81-91
  • Proctor-Thomson, Sarah B. (2013-03) 'Gender disruptions in the digital industries?', in Culture and Organization. vol. 19 (2) , pp.85-104
  • Martin, B. (2013) 'Should Videogames be viewed as Art? in Videogames and art', in Videogames and art, Bristol: Intellect., pp.345-368
  • Guinchard, Audrey. (2011) 'Between Hype and Understatement: Reassessing Cyber Risks as a Security Strategy', in Journal of Strategic Security. vol. 4 (2) , pp.75-95
  • Feenberg, Andrew. (2017-09-30) 'The Internet and the End of Dystopia', in Communiquer. Revue de communication sociale et publique. (20) , pp.77-84
  • Jackson, Matthew O.; Rogers, Brian W.; Zenou, Yves. (no date) 'The Economic Consequences of Social-Network Structure', in Journal of Economic Literature. vol. 55 (1) , pp.49-95
  • Castells, Manuel. (2014) The Impact of the Internet on Society: A Global Perspective.
  • Jarlbrink, Johan. (2017) 'Cultural heritage as digital noise: nineteenth century newspapers in the digital archive', in Journal of documentation, [Bradford]: MCB University Press. vol. 73, pp.1228-1243
  • Cipresso, Pietro. (2015) 'Psychology Of Social Media: From Technology To Identity', in The Psychology of Social Networking Vol.1 Personal Experience in Online Communities.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Digital Portfolio 17/01/2020 50%
Coursework Outline Plan 13/03/2020 10%
Coursework Essay 24/04/2020 40%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Marty Jacobs, Head of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL)
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre General Office: 6.130; Email: istudies@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Ross Wilson
University of Nottingham
Director of Liberal Arts
Available via Moodle
Of 68 hours, 28 (41.2%) hours available to students:
40 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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