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

This course provides students with an introduction to the surveillance studies field from a sociological perspective.

Surveillance devices and systems have become an increasingly familiar feature of everyday living. Data capture and circulation occurs as we shop, as we access services, as we browse the web, as we communicate, and as we travel. Personal information, as a consequence, has become both a vital commodity and an exploitable resource for the wielding of power. This course considers the historical events, technological transformations, organizational aspirations and cultural imperatives responsible for rendering the actions of people - and the movement of things - visible as never before. It prompts students to contemplate some of the political, social, legal and ethical resonances of our being constantly exposed. We contemplate the various systems influencing and endorsing the expansion of surveillance technologies into the front and backstage regions of life. We also review the key theories and concepts in the surveillance studies field and apply these critically to an array of empirical case studies and issues.

Overall, the course provides students with the knowledge, acuity and research skills to understand and engage with the topic of surveillance from a critically informed perspective. It equips students with the means to comprehend analytically the diverse ways in which contemporary surveillance regimens operate and are socially experienced.

Learning Outcomes

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

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


1. Discern the political and economic interests and cultural influences responsible for the intensification of surveillance.

2. Critically evaluate the social impacts and resonances of surveillance processes.

3. Comprehend the relational interplays between surveillance systems and monitored populations.

4. Understand theoretical concepts and perspectives used by sociologists to analyze and explain surveillance practices, processes and policies: specifically notions of risk, rationalization, power, visibility, exposure, supervision, big data, spectacle, inequality, vulnerability and resistance.

5. Undertake and assess research in the surveillance studies field, including the use of census data, attitudinal surveys, content analysis, participant observation and interviews.

6. Evaluate complex ideas lucidly and critically, orally and in writing.

    Indicative Assessment

    • One 1500 word 'Precis & Analysis Book Review' (35%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 4, 5 & 6]

    • 'Tutorial Presentation' (20%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 3 & 6]

    • One 2000 word 'Synthesis Examination' (45%) [Learning Outcomes 1 - 6]

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    The workload will be one 2-hour workshop (interactive lecture) and one 1-hour student-led tutorial per week (total of three contact hours per week) with the expectation of a further 7 non-contact hours per week of independent study. 

    Workload includes:

    • Two 'Core Readings' on each topic to be completed weekly

    • Periodic practical exercises in advance of tutorials

    • 4000-words approximately in assessed written work

    • A compulsory oral presentation

    Requisite and Incompatibility

    To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level SOCY courses; or permission of the convenor

    Prescribed Texts

      Assumed Knowledge

      Students should have a basic grasp of either Sociology and/or Socio-Legal Studies. Despite the transdisciplinary, and indeed familiar, nature of the subject-matter, the themes covered in this course are from a distinctively sociological perspective. Thus, students are recommended to familiarise themselves with concepts such as 'Risk Society', 'Securitization', 'Policing', 'Governance', 'Personal Information', 'Transparency', 'Privacy', 'Human Rights', and 'Consumerism'.



      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.

      Units EFTSL
      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

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      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
      9707 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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