Digital World

Mastering the digital revolution: from complexity to clarity

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Years
  • Mondays 16.00-18.00
  • South Kensington Campus
  • 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


By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Examine key intellectual concepts across the disciplines of social science, history, data science, and journalism.
  • Integrate concepts using self-directed primary and secondary digital research.
  • Present individual and group work to peers and respond to constructive feedback from facilitator and other learners.
  • Apply key concepts, research, and feedback to write an analytical digital world essay.
  • Develop and integrate essay work into an aggregated digital group project.
  • Evaluate current curriculum provision and use digital tools to contribute to future digital world curriculum development.


Indicative core content

Smart Phone

  • The changing nature and importance of data. Examination of aspects of this phenomenon such as data protection, data architecture, data provenance, big data, open data, and alternative data.
  • Information and algorithms. As institutions, cities, and individuals become more digitally ‘smart’, issues such as inbuilt bias, transparency and behaviour control come to the fore.
  • Digital money, cryptocurrency and virtual currency. Emergent aspects of this debate such as how one generates trust in a currency or monetary system, and enforces financial regulation.
  • The impact of technology on the workplace: fintech (finance), lawtech (law), proptec (property), and healthtec (health). Their claims, diffusion, and measureable impact.
  • The changing nature of the media and social media. Case studies of technology and social media companies.
  • Developing online research skills. Insights into how to conduct online research in order to sift through digital and internet noise.
  • The individual, the private sector and the state. Digital is forming new relations and networks which slice through existing hierarchies.
  • Science and technology studies.
  • Transforming organisations. Digital transformation could modify how organisations function. Examination of digital’s impact on logistics, communications and project management.
  • Standards such as ISO, WHO, BSI and NICE are used for many purposes. A critical awareness of their historical formulation,
    diffusion, effects on workplaces, and possible alternatives.


  • Practical: Group presentation - 5 minutes per student (20%)
  • Coursework: Group essay - 2000 words (30%)
  • Coursework: Essay - 1500-2000 words (50%)

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 course. See Imperial Horizons level descriptors [pdf]
"This module offers exotic material! At this point in time, everything is perfect."
"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."