Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3222: Biopolitics in Practice

This module descriptor refers to the 2018/9 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Angela Cassidy (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


The term ‘biopolitics’ first came into use in the early 20th century, as a range of political thinkers and scientists  applied new ideas from biology to developing political theories of society. Multiple versions of ‘the biology of politics’ have surfaced and retreated over time ever, drawing on a range of biological ideas, from organicism to sociobiology, via genetics and cognitive science.  This idea was turned upon its head during the 1970s by the social theorist Michel Foucault, who used the idea of ‘biopower’ to describe how social and political power over life has increasingly been created since the 19th century. This latter concept, the ‘politics of biology’, has been adopted by many scholars thinking about science and society in the 21st century. In this module we will explore the multiple and contested versions of biopolitics over the past century, as they have played out in public debates over evolution and ‘human nature’; agriculture and environments; health and medicine; and new technologies. 

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