• Class Number 6456
  • Term Code 3050
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Ben Hemmings
    • Ben Hemmings
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 06/07/2020
  • Class End Date 31/07/2020
  • Census Date 24/07/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 09/07/2020
    • Philippa Barter
SELT Survey Results

As societies develop in complexity, so attention has turned to the problem of managing the ensuing conditions of risk and uncertainty. From global finance, climate change and terrorism to intimate relationships, personal health and management of the self, institutions and individuals are increasingly expected to perform 'risk work'. This course will examine how they perceive, define and mitigate risks, especially via the use of technologies and specific knowledge frameworks. It will also explore those who make and take risks. We will consider the most influential theories of risk, and then apply these to analyse a series of case studies. The course provides a sociological introduction to risk studies and it encompasses a detailed overview of an issue that impacts significantly on the experience and governance of everyday life.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Apply sociological perspectives and conceptions to explain the nature, function and significance of risk.
  2. Analyse the impact of existing and emerging risks on the organisation and experience of social life and relations.
  3. Evaluate institutional responses to the generation, regulation and management of risks.
  4. Produce independent, sociologically informed research on particular facets of the risk society.
  5. Reflect on and discuss their learning in relation to the content of the course.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 What is Risk? Lecture outline: In our first lecture, we will begin with an discussion of the outline of the course, assessments and the structure of the course. Then, we will discuss what is a risk, examining how risk is used in contemporary society. Then, we will discuss a history of risk and how risk relates The Modern Dream of Rationality and Calculability. Tutorial Participation No required reading
2 Risk Society Lecture outline: In this lecture, we will be examining our first theory of risk, Ulrich Beck's Risk Society. We will begin with an overview of Beck and some key ideas we need to consider when approaching this theorisation. Then, we will discuss the theorisation, particularly that are living in period preoccupied with management and prevention of the production of "bads" and the changing nature of risks and qualities of risks. Followed by a discussion of the structural changes such as the loss of trust in institutions, the rise of individualisation and reflexive modernisation. We will end with a discussion on Giddens influence and the limitations of this theorisation. Tutorial Participation Required reading: Giddens, A. 1999, "Risk and Responsibility", Modern Law Review, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 1-10.
3 Risk and Culture Lecture outline: In this lecture, we explore the second theorisation of risk Mary Douglas' Cultural Theory of Risk. Similar to our lecture on Risk Society, we begin with an introduction to Douglas and a few key ideas to keep in mind when we approach this theory. Then, we will discuss Douglas' work on taboo and risk. Followed by a discussion paired with contemporary examples of Douglas' forensic model of Blame. Next, we will examine Douglas' grid/group model, a heuristic device developed to aid our understanding of this theory. To end, we will have a brief discussion on the work of Lupton and Tulloch on how social and cultural factors shape Australian's risk perceptions. Tutorial Participation Required reading: Douglas, M. 1992 “Risk and Blame”, in M Douglas, Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory, Routledge, London; New York, pp. 3-21.
4 Governmentality and Risk Lecture outline: We will be discussing our final theory of risk, governmentality, examining how risk and be used as a tool of governance. Lecture delivered by Philippa Barter. Tutorial Participation Required Reading: Castel, R. 1991. “From dangerousness to risk”. In The Foucault effect: studies in governmentality, Edited by: Burchell, G., Gordon, C. and Miller, P. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester-Wheatsheaf.
5 Responding to Risk Lecture outline: In this lecture we will be exploring the different ways risk is responded to. Lecture delivered by Philippa Barter. Tutorial Participation Required Reading: O’Malley, P. 2013, "Uncertain Governance and Resilient Subjects in the Risk Society", Oñati Socio-legal Series [online], vol. 3 no. 2, pp. 180-195.
6 Risk and Health Lecture outline: In this lecture, we will be focussing on risk in the field of health and illness. We will begin with a discussion of how the introduction of health risk has reshaped our understanding of health and illness. Following, we will address the question of "who defines health risks?" Then, we will explore how the rhetoric of risk is used for social governance with an example of health promotion in response to HIV/AIDS. Finally, we will end on a discussion of how genetic risk has further reshaped our understanding and approach to health. Tutorial Participation Required Reading: Novas, C. & Rose, N. 2000, "Genetic Risk and the Birth of the Somatic Individual", Economy and Society, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 485-513. Assessment 1: Research Essay (17/07/2020)
7 Risk and Youth Lecture outline: To begin the second week of this intensive, we will have a discussion of youth and risk. We will examine how ideas of youth are socially influenced. Then, we will examine how youth are constructed to be both risky, through an examination of moral panics, and constructed to be at-risk. To end, Professor Helen Keane will give a guest lecture about Youth, Risk and Drugs. Tutorial Participation Required Reading: Turnbull, G. & Spence, J. 2011, "What's at risk? The proliferation of risk across child and youth policy in England", Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 14, no. 8, pp. 939-959.
8 Risk and the City ?Lecture outline: In this lecture, we will explore how ideas of risk management have reshaped the city. We will begin with a discussion of how the city is framed to be a space of risk. Then, we will introduce a way of "reading" the city. Continuing, we will examine how spaces have been (re)designed under the motivation of risk management. Ending, we will explore two extreme cases of risk management and their impact on the city. Tutorial Participation Required Reading: Coaffee, J. 2009, “Urban Restructuring and the Development of Defensive Landscapes”, in J Coaffee, Terrorism, Risk and the Global City: Towards urban resilience, Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, pp. 13-37.
9 Risk and the Environment Lecture outline: We will be exploring in this lecture risk and it's relationship to the environment. Lecture delivered by Philippa Barter and a Guest Lecture by Dr Rebecca Pearse Tutorial Participation Required Reading: TBA
10 Risk and Risk-Taking Lecture outline: In this lecture we will examine risk-taking. To begin, we will seek to define qualities of risk-taking. Then, we will be introduced to theories relating to high risk leisure activities. To end we will examine how social factors such as gender and class can influence risk-taking. Tutorial Participation Required Reading: Collison, M. 1996, "In Search of the High Life: Drugs, Crime, Masculinities and Consumption", The British Journal of Criminology, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 428-444.
11 Technology and Tracking Risk Lecture outline: In the third part of our course, we will be examining emerging topics in the field of the sociology of risk. We will explore how technology has emerged to manage risks, adding a sense of certainty that our perception cannot attain. Following, we will examine some self-tracking devices in the field of health and illness with Ben providing an example of these devices from his work on the Social History of Sex Addiction. Then, we will be introduced to the three key debates in the field of self-tracking. To end Associate Professor Gavin Smith will join us to discuss his work on Smart Cameras and tracking risk. Tutorial Participation Required Reading: Kenner, A. 2016, "Asthma on the move: how mobile apps remediate risk for disease management", Health, Risk & Society: Digitised Health, Medicine and Risk, vol. 17, no. 7-8, pp. 510-529.
12 Risk and Contemporary Troubles Lecture Outline: Our final lecture will examine some contemporary sociology of risk research into troubles we have faced in the last 12 months. This lecture will be somewhat different from our others, as Ben will link some of the key ideas we have engaged with in the course to how we have sought to manage these troubles. Then, he will give a review of some literature that has been produced about these troubles. No tutorial for this lesson Required reading: Zinn, J.O. 2020, "‘A monstrous threat’: how a state of exception turns into a ‘new normal’", Journal of Risk Research, , pp. 1-9. Assessment 2: Research Project (05/08/2020)

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Research essay 40 % 17/07/2020 27/07/2020 1,2,3,4,5
Research Project 50 % 05/08/2020 26/08/2020 1,2,3,4,5
Class participation 10 % * * 1,2,3,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 17/07/2020
Return of Assessment: 27/07/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research essay

A research essay (2000 words), related to the first section of the course theories of risk, using one (1) of the provided topics. Due on the 17th of July at 11:59 pm. This task is worth 40% of your overall mark. [Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Refer to Rubric Below.


FailPassCreditDistinctionHigh Distinction

Criteria 1 - Have you addressed the assessment task in an effective and comprehensive manner?

Criteria 2 - Does your essay demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical lens?

Criteria 3 - Have you supported your arguments with appropriate evidence and examples?  Are these claims being made sufficiently supported?

Criteria 4 - Have you referenced accurately and consistently (both in-text and in the reference section?)

Criteria 5 - Have you written in a clear, precise, and grammatically coherent manner?

Assessment Task 2

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 05/08/2020
Return of Assessment: 26/08/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Research Project

A research project (2500 words), using one (1) of the provided topics. This essay assesses your ability to engage with sociological approaches to understanding the risk and everyday life that we have discussed in the second and third part of the course. This task is worth 50% of your overall mark. This will be due on the 5th of August at 11:59 pm. [Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5] Refer to Rubric.


FailPassCreditDistinctionHigh Distinction

Criteria 1 - Have you addressed the assessment task in an effective and comprehensive manner?

Criteria 2 - Does your essay demonstrate knowledge and understanding of sociological approaches to risk?

Criteria 3 - Have you supported your arguments with appropriate evidence and examples? Are the claims being made sufficiently supported?

Criteria 4 - Does your essay demonstrate evidence of broader reading?

Criteria 5 - Have you referenced accurately and consistently (both in-text and in the reference section?)

Criteria 6 - Have you written in a clear, precise, and grammatically coherent manner?

Criteria 7 - Have you demonstrated an ability to critically engage with and evaluate the utility of the ideas being applied/developed?

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5

Class participation

Assesses the preparedness, quality of contribution, engagement, and involvement of students in-class activities. Students are expected to contribute to all activities. In the event of illness, students must contact the course convener and discussion alternative, commensurate assessment. Attendance in class is marked. This task is worth 10% of your overall mark.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded. OR Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assessment items and comments will be returned to students via Turnitin on Wattle on or before the dates specified above.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Unless otherwise approved under exceptional circumstances, assessment items cannot be resubmitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Ben Hemmings

Research Interests

Health and Illness, Qualitative Research Methods, Online Health Forums, Critical Theories of Mental Health and Medicalisation

Ben Hemmings

By Appointment
By Appointment
Ben Hemmings

Research Interests

Ben Hemmings

By Appointment
By Appointment
Philippa Barter

Research Interests

Philippa Barter

By Appointment

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