Soc 2103:   Global Information Networks


Module Guide - 2016-17





Tuesdays, 4 - 6pm


Naseby rm 25.





Tutor: Graham McBeath

This module will start by exploring different  regimes and states approaches to the building up of networks from ancient empires through telephony and telegraphy to radio and TV and satellites and the Net. Going on to explore the earliest forms of communications and control networks explained by theorists such as Innis and McLuhan as well as the key ideas of packet switching developed by Donald Davies and others we will address the origins of distributive networks and their relations to examples from the making of the Spice routes to Cold War military strategy. By way of an alternative history we will look at the growth of cybernetic theory of open systems and its links to the counter-culture.


Bringing things up to the socio-political and policy situation that led to the 'going public' of the net in the early 90s we will explore how that a libertarian conception of the net gave way to a realisation that States, capitalist or otherwise will inevitably try to control and shape information. The gives an opportunity to review some of the key theories about this coming from Mueller, Lessig, Benkler and others that will help us to identify the various layers of control of global networks that make it not just an informational, but an evolving political space.


The emphasis will be placed on the concept and actuality of transmission of all communications via networks of varying dimension and speeds of proliferation and we will see how theorists such as Bruno Latour and Friedrich Kittler have provided us with a 'post-humanist' some might say 'Actor-Network' view of communications where human and non-humans are co-equal in the network.


Students will be expected to have a basic grasp of social network analysis and other formal methods utilising some of the programmes created for that purpose. They will be shown how to do this using SPSS if necessary. Equally, they will be expected to show in their project work evidence not only of the above, but of understanding the relation between code and meaning within large networks and how both commercial as well as state and security interests try to decode signals.




Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

a)         Demonstrate awareness of varying approaches to commnuications network theory and analysis.

b)         Demonstrate competence in appropriate level analysis of the relation between theory and empirical detail

c)         Recognise, in basic terms, different approaches to the analysis of networks


Subject - specific Skills

d)         Relate different kinds of communications theory to practical examples.

e)         Understand the relvance of the relationship between politics, society, culture and economy to network provision.

f)          Have an anlytical grip on the extent of state and commercial power over global comunications.


Key Skills

g)         Utilise a variety of knowledge resources.

h)         Convey ideas and arguments in both written and oral form.

i)          Planning of work




Module outline: Term One:



Wk 1 - (4.10.16)  Overview of the Module



Wk 2 - (11.10.16) Network Thinking: what is a network?



Wk 3 - (18.10.16) the Innocence of speech communities - the Ong thesis



Wk 4 - (25.10.16) Networks and control - the reach of Ancient Empires - The rise of

            Global Communications and the Innis thesis



Wk 5 - (1.11.16) Concept time: Power, Control, Identity as a function of the




Wk 6 - (8.11.16) The Book and the Traveller: the spread of networks.



Wk 7 -  (15.11.16) no formal session; review of work so far.



Wk 8 - (22.11.16) no sess due to illness.



Wk 9 - (29.11.16) Empires of Spice: Trading routes and Communication



Wk 10 - (6.12.16): Portugal Shipping and Trading network Power - the John Law approach.



Wk 11 - (13.12.16) An 18th C European Public Sphere? Evaluating Habermas (Pt 1)



Module Outline - Term Two



Wk1  - (10.1.17) An 18th C European Public Sphere? Evaluating Habermas (Pt 2)



Wk 2 - (17.1.17) Networks of data speaking tubes to telegraphy and telephony: technology, material, discourse.



Wk 3 - (24.1.17) Networking Culture - the Winston explanation



Wk 4 -  (31.1.17) BBC: Unity, Diversity, Democracy/Broadcasting going International



Wk 5 - (7.2.17) Satellites and Communication in the Cold war



Wk 6 - (14.2.17). Analysis of Shotten paper on satellites, Radio spectrum alloocation & Cold War politics



Wk 7 - (21.2.17)  The Idea and application of Cybernetics in the Social Sciences.



Wk 8 - (28.2.17) Mind your Ps and Qs: of Packets, Bus queues, Donald Davies & Paul Baran, ARPA, DARPA

                             the making of the Internet.



Wk 9 - (7.1.17) Net Governance: Root Control, ICANN and International Politics



Wk 10 - (14.3.17) Theory time: Latour, Deleuze, Flows and Network Theory



Wk 11 - (21.3.17) Analysing Networks - Using SPSS







AS1- 1 x 2,000 word Assignment (28th March, 2017)

PJ1- 1 x 3,000 word Project (20th April, 2017)




a) Show understanding of different theoretical perspectives on the relation betwen networks, public utilityand cyber-security concerns


b) Ability to construct a logical, structured argument which selects and applies theoretical perspectives appropriately to the question.


c) Effective and relevant use of secondary sources.




a) demonstrate an approariate levels of skill at data analysis using programme and formal methods


b) make analytically precise use of relevant theories


c) be able to explore clearly conenctions between technologies, public use, state and comenrcial intercepion of data and the re-negotiation of the privacy and global reach.


Relation of learning outcomes to assessments            units              %       outcomes        

AS1- 1 x 2,000 word Assignment                                         2               40          a, b, d, h.

PJ1- 1 x 3,000 word Project                                                3               60          all




Teaching, learning + assessment activities


Study hours

All contact hours: (total)
(please list contact hours separately below)


24 x 1 Hr Lectures                                                                              



24 x 1 Hr Seminars





Independent study hours (total)
24 x 3hrs preparation


Assessment Hours) Project - 30 hrs/Essay - 20 hrs






Key Readings to link to Lectures/Seminars:


Baudrillard, J. (1993) Symbolic Exchange and Death. Sage. pp. 20 – 23 (section on Money), then: pp. 53 – 76.


Bogard, W. (1996) Simulations of Surveillance.  chp. 1.  Cambridge.

Briggs, A (1960 +) History of Broadcasting in Britain, vols 1-5, oxford, OUP.

Castells, M. (1989)  The Informational Economy.  chps. 1 and 3.  Blackwell publ.

Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society.  Prologue, chps. 5,6, 7,  Blackwell.

Castells, M (2009) Communication Power, Oxford UP.

Colebrook, C. (2002) Gilles Deleuze. London,  Routledge

Coveney/Highfield (1997)  Frontiers of Complexity.  chp. 8.  Faber

Deutsch, K. (1966)  The Nerves of Government. Intro, Preface, chps.1, 5, 6, 8, 9.

Dreyfus, H. (1993) What Computers still can’t do. Mas, MIT

Dupuy, J-P. (2000) The Mechanization of the Mind. USA, Princeton.

Franklin, S. (1995) Artificial Minds. Mass, MIT press. chp. 1, 5, 6 (for the brave), chp. 7

Haugeland, J. (1997) Mind Design II, MIT press.

Hayles, Katherine, (1999) How we became Posthuman.  chps. 1-4, 6,8.

Kellner, D. (1989) Jean Baudrillard. Polity press. Chp. 3.

Habermas, J. Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. (Polity)

Heim, M. (1993) The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality.  chps 5 - 9. Oxford

Kember, S. (2003) Cyberfeminism and Artificial Life, Routledge.

Murray, A (2006) The Regulation of Cyberspace. Routledge.

Lessig, L. (2005) Code 2.0 (

Lessig, L. Future of Ideas (

Lessig, L. Free Culture: how big companies lock down the net - (


Mitchell, WJT, (1996) City of Bits, Mass, MIT

Mueller, M (2002) Ruling the Root, Cambridge, MIT press.

Peirce, J. R.: Introduction to Information Theory. USA, Dover

Pickering, A. (2011) The Cybernetic brain, Chicago, Chicago UP.

Principia Cybernetica Web.

Singh, J. (1967) Great Ideas in Information Theory, Language and  Cybernetics. 

Stadler, F. (2006) Manuel Castells. Polity.

Warren Weaver: `Some recent Contributions to the Mathematical Theory of Communications.’ mass, MIT

Webster, F. (2006) Theories of the Information Society. London, Routledge

Winokur, M: The Ambiguous Panopticon - Foucault and the codes of Cyberspace:







No matter which subjects you are studying, the assignments you produce should represent your own response to a question or analysis of a specific subject or theme. They must not simply involve the reproduction of material from lectures, textbooks or other sources. In producing assignments you will be expected to read widely because one of the marks of good scholarship in a written piece is that the writer has paid full attention to the findings and opinions of other scholars who have written about the same subject matter. You may build on the achievements of others or may reject their conclusions and offer an alternative analysis, but in either case, it is important that all mention of the work of others is properly acknowledged. Academic convention requires that when you use the ideas, quotations, statistics or material from others, you must acknowledge it so that the reader is aware of your sources.


Passing off another person’s work as your own is called plagiarism. This is a form of literary theft and is immoral. The University has a strict policy about plagiarism and it should be avoided at all costs. The best way to avoid any possible accusation of plagiarism is to ensure that all ideas, comments, opinions, data, etc obtained from another person’s work (whether quoted exactly or put into your own words) are properly acknowledged.


The most important reason for correctly referencing any mention of another person’s work is, however, to enable the reader to trace and study that work for him/herself. This enables the reader not only to verify the statements that have been made about the original work, but also to consider the original author’s arguments as first presented.

 This then allows the reader to make a better evaluation of the arguments being presented in the new work.


Several methods are available for correctly referencing the works of others and students should consult Subject Booklets for the method to be used in different subject areas. Within sociology and politics we require students to follow the Harvard system. A very full and informative booklet on the Harvard system is available in the Library, but the following provides a brief but comprehensive guide. The Harvard system involves two processes: -


 Providing a brief reference in the text for any work which has provided you with detailed information


Providing a detailed List of References at the end of the assignment which includes all references mentioned in the text.


Referencing in the text

 (a) Primary referencing

You should cite the source, including page number (s) of any work that has provided you with detailed information such as factual material, statistical data or technical data OR when a work has influenced your line of analysis or argument.

 When using the Harvard system you should give the author’s name and the date of publication. Depending on the particular sentence construction you adopt, this information might appear as: -

‘Morley (1992) in his study of television audiences, points out that….’

‘A study of television audiences (Morley 1992) found….’

 Wherever possible, you should be more exact about where you derived your information – if, for example, you quote directly from a book – you should make sure you note the page numbers as well: -

(Morley 1992: 105)

 For publications by two authors, both are given: -

(Morley and Robins 1995: 105)


The convention where more than two authors are involved is to use ‘et al’: -

(Downing et al 1995: 35)

 If your source is an extract or chapter taken from either a collection of readings or a book with a number of different contributors published as an edited collection, you need to make clear only the immediate source of the reference:-   (Dahlgren 1995)

 You will make clear to the reader that this chapter was part of an edited collection in the bibliography section at the end of your essay.



 (b) Secondary Referencing


Frequently you will wish to refer to a book or piece of information which you have not read at first hand, but which has been commented on or referred to by another author. This situation is particularly common where you are using a general text of some kind. This is called secondary referencing and it is important that you signal clearly that you have not read the original text but have relied on the author you have read to give a fair reflection of the original work.


In these cases you must show both the author and date of the primary text as well as the author and date of the secondary text you have used. This is done by giving the name and date of the primary text followed by "cited in" followed by the name and date of the secondary reference. You will need to refer to the bibliography of the secondary text to obtain the detail you need.

  The format here would be: - (Carey 1989 cited in Grossberg et al. 1998: 44)

 (c ) Journal Articles

The principles involved in referencing journal articles are the same as those for referencing books. The reference given in the text should show the name of the author, date of publication and, where appropriate, page number (s).(Bennett 1999: 556)

 (d) Quotations: If you are quoting directly from a publication rather than discussing/describing it in your own words, then after the quote (which MUST always be in quotation marks) you should give the author (s), date and the page number from the text. Long quotes should be written as a separate paragraph and indented to differentiate them from the rest of the text. Quotation marks are not then required.

 As Morley and Robins have argued: …it is all too easy to see how, in reality the 'free circulation' of media products might be about corporate power and profits rather than about a 'better world'. (Morley and Robins 1995: 12)


Listing References at the end of an essay/assignment 

The purpose of the information given in the text is to refer the reader to your list of references at the end of the essay where s/he will be able to find: -

the full name of the author (s) or editor (s) with their initials

the full title of the book/essay/journal which you have consulted

the publishers name as well as place and date of publication

reference to the page numbers of the section of text you have used (if not already given)


The format for a book is thus as follows: -

Name(s) of author (with initials last), (Date), Title (Underlined or in italic), Place of publication: Name of publisher, eg. Morley, D. (1992), Television, Audiences and Cultural Studies, London: Routledge.


 The format for a chapter from an edited collection is: - Name(s) of author (with initials last), (Date), Title of chapter (in quotes), in Name of editor(s), (Date - if different from date of chapter), Title of Book (italics or underlined), Place of publication: Name of publisher, eg.

Qualter, T. (1991), 'The Social Role of Advertising', in O'Sullivan, T. and Jewkes, Y. (1997), The Media Studies Reader, London: Arnold.


The format for a journal article is: - Name(s) of author (with initials last), (Date), Title of article (in quotes), Journal Title (italics or underlined), volume number and pages. 

Bennett, A. (1999), ‘Subcultures or Neo-Tribes? Rethinking the Relationship Between Youth, Style and Musical Taste’, Sociology 33(3): 599-617.



During the course of your preparatory reading you may use material that has been helpful for reading around the subject, but which you do not make specific reference to in your essay. It is important to acknowledge this material. List all these items under the heading ‘Bibliography’. Include this list after the reference list.

  Note that under the Harvard System, the Reference List and Bibliography are always set out in alphabetical order by author.

 Consistency is a very important aspect of referencing. You must use exactly the same format (layout, type-face and even down to punctuation) throughout the body of your work and in compiling the Reference List and Bibliography at the end.

CAF Assessment GradesCriteria of classification at: Level 5

 An outstanding Distinction


Work which fulfils all the criteria of the grade below, but at an exceptional standard 

A very strong Distinction


Work of distinguished quality which is based on a rigorous and detailed knowledge base, including major theories of the discipline(s) and awareness of the variety of ideas, contexts and frameworks and wider implications.  Work will demonstrate sustained ability to analyse, synthesise, evaluate and interpret concepts, principles and data within field of study in a considered manner, as well as to develop convincing arguments and judgements appropriate to the field of study/ assessment task.  There will be strong evidence of competence across a range of specialised skills using them to plan, develop and evaluate problem solving strategies, to challenge received opinion and develop own judgements

A clear Distinction


Work of very good quality which displays most but not all of the criteria for the grade above. 

A Distinction


Work of highly commendable quality which clearly fulfils the criteria for the grade below, but shows a greater degree of capability in relevant intellectual/subject/key skills. 

A very strong Merit


Work of commendable quality based on a strong detailed knowledge base for the field of study, including an assured grasp of concepts, principles and major theories, together with effective deployment of skills relevant to the discipline and assessment task.  There will be evidence of considered analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application, and the ability to work effectively with minimum direction to meet defined objectives and develop own judgements.  There will be consistent evidence of capability in all relevant subject based and key skills, including the ability to self-evaluate and work autonomously with minimal direction to use effectively a range of techniques in situations of varying complexity and predictability.

A strong Merit


Work of good quality which contains most, but not all of the characteristics of the grade above. 


A clear Merit




Work which clearly fulfils all the criteria of the grade below, but shows a greater degree of capability in relevant intellectual/subject/key skills. 

A Merit


Work of sound quality based on a firm factual/ conceptual knowledge base for the field of study, including a good grasp of relevant theories, together with the ability to organise and communicate effectively.  The work may be rather standard and limited in its theoretical grasp, but will be mostly accurate and provide some evidence of the ability to analyse, synthesise, evaluate and apply standard methods/techniques, with minimal guidance. There will be no serious omissions or inaccuracies.  There will be good evidence of ability to take responsibility for own learning, some capability to challenge received opinion and form own judgements 

A very strong Pass


Work of capable quality which contains some of the characteristics of grade above. 

A strong Pass


Work of satisfactory quality demonstrating a reliable knowledge base and evidence of developed key skills and/or subject based skills, but still containing limited evidence of analysis, synthesis, evaluation or application, or of appropriate detail or skill application. 

A Pass


Work of broadly satisfactory quality covering adequately the factual and/or conceptual knowledge base of the field of study and some key theories, appropriately presented and organised, but is primarily descriptive or derivative, with only occasional evidence of analysis, synthesis, evaluation or application.  There may be some misunderstanding of key concepts/principles/theories and limitations in the ability to select relevant material or techniques and/or in communication or other relevant skills, so that the work may include some errors, omissions or irrelevancies.  There will be evidence of ability to operate with some autonomy in predictable contexts, but less evidence of ability to operate in more complex or unpredictable situations.  However, there will be evidence of ability to use a variety of standard techniques, and to meet threshold standards in relevant key skills.


A bare Pass


Work of bare pass standard demonstrating some familiarity with and grasp of a factual/conceptual and theoretical knowledge base for the field of study, together with evidence of some ability to employ specialist skills to solve problems within area of study, but only just meeting threshold standards in e.g. evaluation and interpretation of data and information, reasoning and soundness of judgment, communication, application, or quality of outputs. Work may be characterised by some significant errors, omissions, limitations or problems, but there will be sufficient evidence of development and competence to operate in varied contexts taking responsibility for the nature and quality of outputs.

A marginal Fail


Work which indicates some evidence of engagement with area of study in relation to acquisition of knowledge and understanding of concepts, principles and theories, and of specialist skills, but which is essentially misinterpreted, misapplied and/or contains some significant omission or misunderstanding, or otherwise just fails to meet threshold standards in e.g. communication, application or quality of outputs. 

A Fail


Work that falls well short of the threshold standards in relation to one or more area of knowledge, intellectual, subject based or key skills. It may address the assessment task to some extent, or include evidence of successful engagement with some of the subject matter, but such satisfactory characteristics will be clearly outweighed by major deficiencies across remaining areas.

A comprehensive



Work of poor quality which is based on only minimal understanding, application or effort. It will offer only very limited evidence of familiarity with knowledge or skills appropriate to the field of study or task and/or demonstrate inadequate capability in key skills essential to the task concerned. 

Non-submission/Nil attempt


Nothing presented. 



Appendix 2

For more detailed information on the Harvard System of Referencing – including the citation of internet sources – or for a Quick Guide.



Appendix 3


 The University unequivocally condemns plagiarism, which it considers to be comparable to falsifying data and cheating in an examination, and warns students that the Senate looks gravely upon incidences of plagiarism and is empowered to recommend severe penalties where students are found guilty of plagiarism. (See Academic Misconduct)

Definition: The University considers plagiarism involves an intention to deceive and entails the submission for assessment of work which purports to be that of the student but is in fact wholly or substantially the work of another. Since it is difficult to establish such an intention to deceive except through practice the University defines plagiarism in the following way.

The University defines plagiarism as the incorporation by a student in work for assessment of material which is not their own in the sense that all or substantial part of the work has been copied without any attempt at attribution or has been incorporated as if it were the student's own when in fact it is wholly or substantially the work of another person.

For further details on the policy and procedures regarding suspected academic misconduct, see the

University's STUDENT CODE and information on Academic Misconduct.



Appendix 4:  Soc 2004 - Global Information Networks

In the table below, you will find some general statements about general aspects of the module. Please indicate how you 'rate' this module by ticking the box which best reflects your view of the course:  Key: A = Excellent; B = Very Good; C = Good; D = Satisfactory; E = Unsatisfactory  

How do you rate:






Your overall level of satisfaction with the module






The organisation of lectures






The pitch of lectures






The delivery (pace, structure) of lectures






The teaching aids/materials used in lectures






The usefulness of module guides






The overall course content






Help and support from module tutors






Our response(s) to suggestions and problems






The organisation/structure of seminars






The size of seminar groups






The purpose of seminars






The range of activities in the seminars






The range of materials used in seminars






The availability of resources for the module







If your ratings included any Cs or Ds (or if you are happy in general, but have some specific suggestions), please explain in a few words why you were less than satisfied with this/these aspects of the course and what we could do to make improvements: 






2)      Are there any aspects of the module which you particularly enjoyed (e.g. activities, teaching styles, etc.) and would like to see adopted more widely? 




3)      How do you rate your experience on this module in comparison to your other subjects?

  Key: A = Excellent; B = Very Good; C = Good; D = Satisfactory; E = Unsatisfactory


How do you rate:






Your overall level of satisfaction with the module






The organisation of lectures






The pitch of lectures






The delivery (pace, structure) of lectures






The teaching aids/materials used in lectures






The usefulness of module guides






The overall course content






Help and support from module tutors






Our response(s) to suggestions and problems






The organisation/structure of seminars






The size of seminar groups






The purpose of seminars






The range of activities in the seminars






The range of materials used in seminars






The availability of resources for the module






4)      Are there any parts or aspects of the module which you struggled or had difficulties with?




5)      Please evaluate your own performance and that of your colleagues on this module.









Are you happy with your own performance in this module?






Do you think you personally got the most out of this course?






Are you happy with the performance of your colleagues

in seminars and/or group work?









All the


Most of

the time



Do you actively participate in seminar discussions?





Do you feel you are getting something out of seminar discussions?





Do you feel that your colleagues in seminars are adequately prepared?







Please indicate briefly your views on the recommended readings/sources:



If you feel that you and/or your colleagues do not participate as much as you/they could, please indicate what we could do to change this and what you could do to change this:




appendix 5

 UMF Assessment regulations and resubmission dates

 Please note the following important information regarding the submission of assessments:


The essay assignment should be submitted on NILE via the Submit Your Work button. Please follow the instructions that appear after you click on Submit Your Work.

 Referral and Deferral

Referred assessments are those where a student is permitted to retake assessment for the module as a second attempt following initial failure (F+, F, F- or G). In these circumstances, the maximum grade is D-.


Deferred assessments are those where a student is permitted to take assessment for the module at a later opportunity, as a result of a decision by the mitigating circumstances panel. In these cases, there is no constraint on the grade.



Extensions are given at the discretion of tutors and evidence is likely to be required for requests.

Extensions must be requested at least two days before the assessment deadline and can only be given for a maximum of two weeks.

 Late submission

Assessments submitted after the deadline, where an extension has been agreed, are subject to the following penalties:

-          Submitted within one week of the deadline – maximum grade of D-

-          Submitted later than one week of the deadline – referred (i.e. ‘failed’).


Referred assessments

Any item of assessment which has been referred either as graded below a D- on the first attempt, submitted more than one week after the deadline, or not submitted at all may be ‘replaced’ by an alternative assessment with new fixed deadlines (see below), but with a maximum grade of D-.


Deferred assessments

Any item of assessment which has been deferred may be ‘replaced’ by an alternative assessment with new deadlines (see below), with no constraint on the grade.


Assignment One: you will be required to do an essay

Assignment Two: you will be required to re-do the project


No extensions are available for referred or deferred assessments. Please note that these are the only opportunities to improve on a failed grade.