You are viewing information for England.  Change country or region.

Understanding digital societies

Technology has always been a part of society in some way and yet in recent decades it seems as though the impacts of technology in everyday life are coming to the fore. If you're curious about the societal impacts of technology, this module will be for you. Throughout the module you'll learn core sociological theory that will help you unpack and understand societal, political and environmental impacts of digital technology. You'll consider digital societies in relation to three broad themes: individuals and society, power and inequality and, people and things.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects

Module

Module code
DD218
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

This module examines technology and society in relation to three core themes:  individual and society, power and inequality and, people and things. These themes broadly correspond to the sociological ideas and real-life examples presented to you across the four blocks to the module, where you'll consider digital technologies using ideas developed in sociology. In these blocks you'll explore:

Block 1: Everyday Life and the Digital
This block begins by considering the ‘sociological imagination’, using examples of technology through history, you'll start to understand how the problems individuals face relates to wider issues in society. You'll learn and apply sociological ideas such as ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life and Capital' to further explore how people relate to one another on social media.

Block 2: Society, Technology, Citizens, and Cities 
You'll begin by thinking about what makes a city smart and go on to consider perspectives on technology, migration and transnational communities.

Block 3: Humans and Machines
This block looks at the issues to do with automation, artificial intelligence and agency. This will equip you with the ideas to consider the impacts of automation on individuals and society.

Block 4: Uses and Abuses of the Digital
In this final section, we introduce you to the idea of ‘social harm’ and present some issues related to environmental impacts of technology production, cybercrime and cyber security, misinformation, algorithms and inequality and, social media and mental health.

These topics will be illustrated using a range of audio, video, textbook and interactive materials.

Given the contemporary nature of this module, we want you to apply the ideas you learn to the situations you experience in everyday digital societies. This could include your experiences on social media platforms, interactions with online services and government institutions, or the interactions you might have with technology in your daily life.

This module gives you the opportunity to discuss these ideas and experiences through a range of VLE activities, workshops and assessments. You'll also be given skills and training to help you communicate your ideas and observations in both academic and professional settings.

Vocational relevance

This module will equip you with a range of transferable skills, such as communication skills, critical analysis, and team collaboration. You will also learn skills that allow the evaluation of research and this will prepare you for level three sociology modules.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will provide help with developing core sociological skills and understanding sociological concepts. They will also provide feedback on your assignments and help prepare you for the end-of-module assessment.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Understanding digital societies starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2029.
 

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    As this is an OU level 2 module, it would be an advantage if you have completed an OU level 1 Social Sciences module as a solid foundation. However, this module serves as an introduction to sociology and would be suitable for anyone wishing to develop their critical understanding of technology and society.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Register

    Start End Fee Register
    02 Oct 2021 Jun 2022 Not yet available

    Registration opens on 18/03/21

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2029.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 05/03/2021.

    What's included

    You’ll be provided with a textbook and have access to a module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • module materials
    • audio and video recordings
    • interactive content
    • an assessment guide
    • access to online tutorials and forums.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DD218 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.