Not available in 2022/23
SO4B6      Half Unit
Nature and Technology: More than Human Sociology

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Carrie Friese STC.S213


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Economy and Society and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given to students on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Economy and Society and MSc Sociology.  This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

The premise of this course is that, to understand social life, we need to go beyond human subjects to also consider our relations with other living species and inanimate things. In this course we will explore how the more than human social world can be theorised, thus providing an alternative to the twin modernist notions of nature as the grounds for society as well as technology as the human construction of the material world. The theorists we will read in this course are largely located within Science and Technology Studies, and may include: Karen Barad, Vinciane Despret, Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and/or Isabelle Stengers. Drawing on these theorists, we will ask how entities like cells and microbes or plants and animals or digital and mechanical technologies shape human social life. Examples may be in the fields of: (re)production, infectious diseases, weather and climate, health care provision and/or commodity supply chains. We will explore how more than human perspectives on these processes reshapes sociological understandings of capitalism/post-capitalism, power and biopolitics, humanitarianism and rights, and/or inequalities. Through these theories and empirical case studies, across the course we will ask what it means to be human today, and we will probe the ethics involved in living together in power laden, affective relations with other species and things in remaking the planet.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the LT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Essay plan of 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

• Barad, Karen. (2007) Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.

• Chakrabarti, Pratik. (2012) Bacteriology in British India: Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.

• Elias, Ann. (2019) Coral Empire: Underwater Oceans, Colonial Tropics, Visual Modernity. Durham: Duke University Press.

• Haraway, Donna J. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.

• Kohn, Eduardo. (2013) How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. Berkeley: UC Press.

• Latour, Bruno. (2018) Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime. Cambridge: Polity.

• Snaza, Nathan.(2019) Animate Literacies: Literature, Affect, and the Politics of Humanism.Durham: Duke University Press.

• Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria. (2017) Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in the More than Human Worlds. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press.

• Tsing, Anna. (2017) The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

• Vora, Kalindi and Neda Atanasoski. (2019) Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures. Durham: Duke University Press.


Essay (90%, 4000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (10%) in the LT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the third Wednesday of Summer Term.

Attendance at all seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2021/22: 26

Average class size 2021/22: 13

Controlled access 2021/22: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication