• Offered by School of Sociology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Sociology
  • Areas of interest Sociology

Why do bleak visions of the future recur in the twentieth century, despite the progress and human betterment promised by science, technology, and the expansion of liberal values? This course considers the ways in which the future has been conceived in the West since the eighteenth century. It presents an eclectic, intensive exploration of utopian hopes and dystopian fears in the West. Topics include: ambivalence about science, reason, and machines, scientific management, bureaucratisation, eugenics and fears of racial decline, mass conformity and robots, dictatorship, surveillance and the loss of freedom, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and the euphoric collapse of conventional boundaries.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • To examine the Western obsession with directing social changes from the Enlightenment to contemporary times
  • To show how the hope for better societies has been linked with modernisation and faith in scientific progress
  • To trace the turn from utopias to dystopias in the 20th century
  • To analyze the utopic & dystopic projections to the future as a reflect of current social issues
  • To contrast scientifically based dreams of the future with religiously based ones in contemporary societies
  • To strengthen students' ability to recognize and critically assess key social patterns and cultural themes
  • To reflect on the links between modernization, individualism and the scientific critique of tradition
  • To encourage critical and innovative thinking about modernization and the role of science in social changes

Indicative Assessment

1,500 word essay (35%), 2,500 word essay (55%) and tutorial participation (10%).

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Two 1-hour lectures per week and 10 1-hour tutorials.

 Lectures will be taped.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 48 units of 1000 level ANU courses including 6 units of SOCY or HIST courses; or permission of the convenor

Preliminary Reading

To be advised.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
10107 24 Jul 2017 31 Jul 2017 31 Aug 2017 27 Oct 2017 In Person N/A

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