Digital World

Mastering the digital revolution: from complexity to clarity

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Years
  • Mondays 16.00-18.00
  • Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
  • 2-term module worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore
  • Extra Credit, or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

Not a day goes by without news stories about our digital world: digital disruption, cyberwar, surveillance, social media, big  data, algorithms, guerrilla marketing, cryptocurrencies. It can feel exhilarating, visionary, sometimes even threatening. But these digital phenomena can also be researched, understood, even improved.

Incorporating elements of political economy, data science, psychology, health, journalism, and history, this module will elucidate on these issues from an interdisciplinary standpoint. It deploys a variety of innovative teaching, research, presentation, and assessment methods.

Past student projects include:

  • The impact of mobile technology in the global south
  • Assessing the long-term outcomes of dating apps
  • A cross-country analysis of the ethics of digital communications
  • Data bias in automated recruitment
  • A comparative analysis of digital surveillance on three continents
  • The use of artifical intelligence in drug discovery
  • The relations between digital technology and mental health

Information blocks

Learning outcomes


On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Examine key concepts across the disciplines of social science, data science, history, and journalism.
  • Explore concepts using self-directed primary and secondary research.
  • Integrate concepts studied, research, and feedback received.
  • Communicate relevant academic concepts and findings in at least two formats.


Indicative core content

  • Smart PhoneThe changing nature and value of data
  • Data, alt-data and algorithms
  • Data visualisation
  • Innovation and the digital world
  • Truth and facts in a digital age
  • Digital politics
  • Digital media
  • Digital society and digital life
  • Digital culture
  • Big digital
  • Digital work
  • Digital law and security
  • Digital health
  • Digital education
  • Digital finance, including cryptocurrency
  • Digital impact: the environment
  • Digital impact: tacit knowledge, organisational behaviour and memory decay
  • Digital impact: futures, forecasting and decision-making
  • Digital skills: estimation, scenario planning and wargaming

Learning and teaching approach

This module is designed to develop your skills and confidence as an independent analyst and researcher. In terms of assessment, it builds in complexity from an essay chosen from a set list, to a presentation on a subject of your choice, to a final written project on that subject.
Most classes include discussion time, including organised group discussions around both pre-set and in-class reading. Sometimes you will be in self-selected groups, and sometimes you will be randomised groups in order to attain better group cohesion. Some summative assessment project work will be conducted in class and with module leader contributions. In some classes we undertake paired/group activities such as source identification, research in secondary literature, and presentation of findings to fellow students and the module leader. We will also use digital tools such as Mentimeter and Padlet in both live learning and private study.
This module uses a suitable VLE for submission of summative assessments, through which your feedback will be delivered. Feedback from your first essay, in term 1, will be designed to feed into your term 2 assessments. Given that your presentation and second essay form part of the same project, feedback on your presentation will aid you both in your presentation skills as well as developing your final written project.


  • Coursework: Essay - 1200-1500 words (30%)
  • Coursework: Individual 5-minute presentation (15%)
  • Coursework: Essay - 1500-2000 words (55%)


Key information

  • Requirements: You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 85 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments and preparing for other assessments.
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 5 module. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.‌
"This module offers exotic material! At this point in time, everything is perfect."

"I'm envious of this year’s cohort as I would love to do the course all over again."

"the module is extremely interesting and the flexibility of it makes it so much better. In an ever changing digital world, a module on digital must not, in my opinion, follow a rigid path but rather adapt to the news. I would not change anything."
"Extremely eye-opening module and well-designed."
"Everything on this module is almost perfect. Dr. Weatherburn is fantastic teacher."
"Very stimulating as class discussions allow for different opinions."
"I thoroughly enjoyed writing the essay, as well as attending your series of fascinating lectures! The ideas and approaches you introduced us to will certainly stay with me for a long time."