Critical Approaches to Technology and Society

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course provides an introduction and a critical analysis of historical, cultural and normative aspects of information technology. The course is divided into three thematic modules that will vary from year to year. Possible topics are: surveillance, identity on the internet, gender and technology, internet use in a global perspective, ethics in a digital society, self representation in digital media.

This course lays the ground for further studies in the cultural and societal aspects of technology. We emphasize that students write shorter and longer texts through the whole semester and get feedback on these. Students will also learn to develop and give meaningful and helpful comments to each other. For parts of the course, working with the topics will result in the production of alternative ways of conveying academic content. The course builds on skills acquired in academic writing (see the introductory course) and leads to DIKULT251.

Learning Outcomes

The candidate has knowledge

  • about different humanistic approaches in analyzing technology in society
  • about how digital culture impacts our understanding of ourselves and each other


The candidate can

  • perform independent assessments of cultural, normative and social aspects and impacts of information- and communication technology
  • argue for a position in ethical and normative questions in technology, based on facts and research. An example of this can be the relationship between surveillance and privacy, or piracy and copyright.
  • develop good academic feedback on peers¿ work
  • contribute to an academic dissemination piece other than an academic essay.

General competence.

The candidate can

  • write analytical texts adhering to best practice in academic writing
  • use references in conjunction with independent thinking to develop a chain of argumentation
  • work with constructive feedback on their texts

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
The course is open to anyone with a right to study at the University of Bergen.
Teaching and learning methods

There are twenty weeks in a semester, where ten weeks usually have classes. A week with classes will usually contain two classes lasting two hours each. The class schedule will be available by the beginning of the semester.

The instruction will be given as lectures and supervision in connection with the assignment writing.

The course is taught in three thematic modules. Each of the three modules is followed by a period in which students write drafts of a portfolio assignment in connection with the teaching that has been given. Students will be given supervision in connection with assignment writing, including peer review. In one of the modules, students will develop a dissemination project as a group work.

It is important that the students read and follow the course manual before the course starts.

The lectures are student-active, and will mostly be a combination of shorter speeches from the lecturer, discussions in smaller groups, presentations of group work, plenary discussions, writing exercises and practical work where one may use the computers in the lab or one's own laptop or cell phone.

The students must be prepared for each lecture and lab session since these always actively include the students in discussions about the topics. Generally, there will be given smaller writing tasks between lectures, where one will write around 200-word pieces about the topic, following standards for academic reasoning and referencing, or contribute to a discussion thread. Another kind of homework can be to use Social Media to find and collect postings on a certain topic, or document an argument with imagery and sound.

It is mandatory to do this homework to participate in the lectures since one will discuss these works there in plenary or smaller groups.

The total amount of work expected from students in this course is 20 hours per week, starting at semester start before the teaching and ending with the last submission, and including reading weeks. These hours should be used to prepare and attend lectures and labsessions, to read course litterature, to do homework, to write assignments and the portfolio, and to gather relevant material at the library and on the web (books, articles, videos).

It is expected that the time during teaching-free weeks is used for own reading and preparation for the exam.

We may invite the students to relevant guest lectures and events conducted by Digital Culture.

If less than five students are registered to a course, the department might reduce the teaching, please see the department's guidelines regarding this on Mitt UiB. Regarding a course where this is a possibility the students get information about this at the beginning of the semester, and before the deadline regarding semester registration 1.September.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Attendance is mandatory, effective for all teaching activities, including orientation meeting. The attendance is logged and approved by the teacher. If the absence exceeds 25 per cent of lectures and/or lab sessions, the student cannot take the exam.

For two of the modules, the students must submit an essay text of at least 1000 words. The assignments must follow the standards in academic writing in argumentation and referencing. There is mandatory tutoring and peer review with a teacher and peer students for each of these assignments. For each of them, the student must participate with prepared comments on two other students' texts. The teacher or course responsible approves the essay and the participation. All activity must be approved before the student is eligible for exam.

One of the modules will result in a group work product, for example a collaborative video. The details about the form and requirements will be announced in the start of the semester. It must be clear from the product what the individual student contributed with. The contribution must hold an academic insightful level. The teacher or course responsible approves this project.

All assignments must be completed in the semester of teaching.

Forms of Assessment

The student compiles a portfolio as a base for assessment.

The portfolio will contain two academic essays of around 2000 words each. These are developments of the two essays written during the semester and reflect learning from the writing and the tutoring. Both pieces must hold a passing level, and both weigh the same in assessing. There will only be one grade on the portfolio.

The portfolio will also contain a short report about the group project with a link to the product or the documentation of it. This report will have an adjusting function for the grade.

The portfolio may be in Norwegian or English.

Grading Scale
Grade scale A-F. An explanation of this scale can be found on Mitt UiB.
Assessment Semester
Reading List

We use books and articles that will be available in bookshops, in digital compendiums or that are freely available online. Video recordings of online lectures or documentary films can also be on the syllabus, and then they will either be freely available online or be shown in the teaching. Students must also expect to spend time familiarizing themselves with selected websites, social media and debates that take place online.

All material is usually in English. Students can use and refer to sources in other languages ¿¿in assignments and exams.

The list of compulsory and recommended subject matter, as far as this is known in advance, is available on Mitt UiB before the start of the semester and is continuously updated as needed. The books will be available at Akademika before the start of the semester, or downloadable as e-books.

Course Evaluation
Evaluation will be conducted in accordance with the University of Bergen's quality assurance system.