• Class Number 4007
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Robert Ackland
    • Dr Baptiste Brossard
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
SELT Survey Results

The internet, and in particular the web and social media, has transformed the way we socialise, participate in politics, work, collaborate, and engage in commerce. This course focuses on the contribution of social science at large – emphasising classical sociology and social network analysis – to understanding life in the Digital Age. While attention is paid to relevant insights and approaches from other disciplines, for example applied physics and computer science, the primary focus is on theoretical and empirical contributions from social science. This course equips students with the theory and methods for understanding the social, political and economic impact of the internet. Students will also learn how network analysis and big data are being used to answer long-standing questions in social science.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. critically assess the social, political and economic impact of the internet;
  2. understand how big data are being used in the study of online social behaviour;
  3. conduct basic social network analysis;
  4. compare social scientific approaches to studying the internet with those from other disciplines; and
  5. discuss their learning in relation to the social science of the internet, both orally and in writing.

Examination Material or equipment

The examination is closed book: only non-programmable calculators can be brought into the examination.

Course notes and additional readings will be provided.

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.

Other Information

The information provided is a preliminary Class Outline. A finalised version will be available on Wattle and will be accessible after enrolling in this course. All updates, changes and further information will be uploaded on the course Wattle site and will not be updated on Programs and Courses throughout the semester. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the Course Convenor.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to the Social Science of the Internet, Introduction to Online Networks (Ackland)
2 Socialization, Interaction and Rituals (Brossard)
3 Friendship Formation (Ackland)
4 Social Influence (Ackland)
5 The Production of Norms and Deviance (Brossard) Assessment 1 due
6 Achievement and Inequality in the Network Society (Ackland)
7 From Inequalities to Online Social Roles (Brossard) Assessment 2 due
8 Politics (Ackland)
9 Protest and Social Movements (Ackland)
10 Peer Production, Information Public Goods, and Crypto Currencies (Ackland)
11 Threats from Digitisation – Piracy, Privacy and Cyber-Security (Ackland) Assessment 3 due
12 The Emergence of the Internet and the Theories of Social Change (Brossard)
13 During examination period Assessment 4

Tutorial Registration

Via Wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Social network analysis problem set 10 % 23/03/2020 30/03/2020 2,3,4
Research brief on online social environment 15 % 20/04/2020 27/04/2020 2,3,4
Class paper 35 % 18/05/2020 01/06/2020 1,2,4,5
Examination 40 % * * 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.


This is an on-campus course. Attendance at all teaching events (lectures and tutorials), while not compulsory, is expected in line with “Code of Practice for Teaching and Learning”, clause 2 paragraph (b). Your active participation and engagement in the course will assist you in learning the material and thus enhance both your enjoyment of the course and your ability to achieve a high grade.

Tutorials are a discussion-based class. Providing worked solutions would not effectively compensate for missing a tutorial. Students who, through unavoidable and unplanned occurrences, are unable to attend a tutorial class one week are encouraged to work through the problems and if necessary, attend a consultation session for discussion and solutions.


See Assessment Task 4

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 23/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 30/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4

Social network analysis problem set

This assessment covers basic concepts from social network analysis, with particular emphasis on SNA applied to online networks. Students are asked to calculate and interpret some basic SNA metrics (e.g. indegree centrality) for a small friendship network. Other questions will test critical understanding of use of network techniques for studying digital social behaviour.

Word limit: 550 words

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 20/04/2020
Return of Assessment: 27/04/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4

Research brief on online social environment

In this assessment, students will write a research brief on an online social environment (e.g. Twitter, Reddit, YouTube). The brief will cover concepts from the first part of the course, for example: how can this behaviour be represented as networked interactions?; what are the network nodes and ties?; what are the available data sources for studying this environment?; are the concepts of homophily and social influence relevant for studying this environment?

Word limit: 750 words

Assessment Task 3

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 18/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 01/06/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5

Class paper

Students will choose an essay topic from a list of topics covering key aspects of the course. The essay will test ability to critically engage with key concepts and themes in the course, and identify relevant resources (e.g. research articles, government reports).

Word limit: 2000 words

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,5


The closed-book examination will be 3 hours in duration and conducted in-person. There will be a mixture of multiple choice and short answer questions, which will test the student's understanding of material from the entire course. Further information on the content/structure of the final examination will be provided by Week 12. Past examination papers are not available to students, but some example questions will be provided.

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

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.

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

Grades and feedback for Assessment Tasks 1 and 2 will be available the week after submission (this may vary, depending on late submissions). A preliminary grade for Assessment Task 3 will be provided within two weeks of submission.

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

Not available.

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).
Dr Robert Ackland
6125 0312

Research Interests

Dr Robert Ackland

By Appointment
Dr Baptiste Brossard
6125 7488

Research Interests

Dr Baptiste Brossard

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions