The Social Construction of Surveillance and Cybercrime


Using a perspective that sees technologies as socially constructed this module introduces students to the study of surveillance and cybercrime. It offers an analysis of the ways in which surveillance, cybercrime and cybersecurity can be seen as socio- technical assemblages.


The aim of this module is to provide the student with: a critical understanding of surveillance and cybercrime in the contemporary world and their effect on the lives of individuals and groups. The module uses a perspective that sees technologies as socially constructed. With this perspective and relevant case studies presented in lectures and readings, students will be encouraged to reflexively challenge the boundaries of technology and society, applying confident and creative thinking to academic and industry debates.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Demonstrate knowledge of the social construction of technologies.

2.  Demonstrate knowledge of the ways in which surveillance concepts are tied with surveillance technologies.

3.  Critically explore and understand how the internet and digital technologies change how we conceptualise crime and security.

4.  Critically understand the interdisciplinary nature of the phenomena of cybercrime and surveillance.

Indicative Content

1 Concepts on the Social Study of Technology

such as (a) Social Construction of Technology (b) Technological Determinism (c) Actor-Network Theory.

2 Case Studies in Surveillance

such as (a) Automation of surveillance (b) Algorithmic Surveillance (c) Dataveillance.

3 Case Studies in Cybercrime and Security

such as: (a) malware software (b) security policies and mechanisms (c) Encryption (d) the Dark Web (e) manipulation of trust and reputation.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

In this module the students will be encouraged to challenge the boundaries between technology and society in understanding key issues surrounding cybercrime and surveillance. Students are encouraged to analyse the relationship between crime, security and digital technologies and how this relates to concepts such as power, property, privacy, automation and work. In lectures, students are presented with the main sociological theories and concepts on the study of technology. These theories and concepts are then applied to the fields of surveillance and cybercrime with relevant examples and case studies. This ambitious form of inquiry will allow students to unpack the various issues, debates and problems which exist in relation to the use of technologies such facial recognition systems, algorithms or the Internet. Tutorial discussions will focus on the contested nature of these technologies and their relationship to forms of power. In the tutorials, students are encouraged to develop collaborative and independent thinking skills, evidenced via contributions to class discussions. Students are required to synthesize and present knowledge and evaluate explanatory frameworks. Students are assessed via two essays which in sum allow them to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding from across the course, and thus to reflexively and critically analyse key academic debates on surveillance and cybercrime. In sum, these will encourage confident thinking in line with graduate attributes at this level of study and as described in the learning outcomes.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 10
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 80
Independent 86

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/20 , and may be subject to change for future years.