• Offered by School of Sociology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Research
  • Course subject Sociology
  • Areas of interest Law, Sociology, Security Studies, Criminology, Human Rights
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course

This course provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of surveillance studies.

Surveillance technologies and practices form an increasingly familiar part of our daily lives: data are made and shared as we commute, work, consume and browse. And yet, we know very little about how surveillance operates and how the data these systems produce are used to positively and negatively structure our social experiences, in terms of how we are viewed and responded to by other actors and agencies. Personal data are a means of knowledge and power and they are put to many different ends, from governing large populations to staging individual constructions of identity.

This course considers some of the key historical events, organisational aspirations and cultural factors responsible for the emergence of surveillance societies. Students will learn about the political, social, legal and ethical dimensions and implications of mass surveillance, specifically by drawing on some of the major theories in surveillance studies. We explore the interests and values underpinning the expansion of surveillance, the types of regulatory frameworks governing surveillance and the complex forms of social relations mediating surveillance processes. We will focus on various research examples to develop our knowledge and understanding of the social drivers and implications of surveillance.

The four main questions informing our coverage are:

1. What social and historical circumstances have generated the surveillance society?

2. How did mass surveillance of everyday life become so normal?

3. What purposes and interests does surveillance serve?

4. How does surveillance operate and with what social consequences?

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. identify the social and historical factors responsible for the intensification of surveillance;
  2. evaluate the diverse social impacts and implications of surveillance processes;
  3. analyse the merits of concepts, theories and methods used by researchers to explain surveillance practices and policies;
  4. undertake different types of research in the surveillance studies field; and
  5. reflect on and discuss their learning in relation to processes of surveillance both orally and in writing.

Other Information

Please contact the course convener, Associate Professor Gavin Smith, for any questions regarding course content and structure.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Research essay (3000 words) (35) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Seminar participation (15) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  3. Take-home exam (3000 words) (35) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Group presentation: Film Analysis, 20 minutes (15) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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.


Proposed teaching dates:

January 17th - 21st 2022 - Session 1, lectures and seminars on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

January 24th - 28th 2022 - Mid-session break, NO TEACHING

January 31st - Feb 4th 2022 - Session 2, lectures and seminars on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed SOCY2157.

Prescribed Texts

Not applicable

Preliminary Reading

The course is both general and particular in focus, I have opted for the following indicative texts:

Browne, S. (2015) Dark matters: on the surveillance of blackness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Gilliom, J. and T. Monahan (2012) SuperVision. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lyon, D. (2007) Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Assumed Knowledge

A basic understanding of sociological and/or criminological thinking and approaches.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6000
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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