Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3247: Politics of Biology

This module descriptor refers to the 2022/3 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module will run during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Jack Tagney (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


When we think about politics and society, what role does our understanding of biology play? What role should it play? Can nature tell us how to organise society? In what ways can biological science be used for ideological purposes? Is this ever legitimate, or is it always an abuse of science? How should we create policy around the use of biotechnologies? What is the relation between ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ in human life, and why does it matter?

This module explores a number of spaces where politics and biology come into contact with each other – where there is interplay between socio-political issues and our understanding of living nature. We examine these spaces via a range of disciplines, from political and social theory, to moral philosophy, to history and sociology of the life sciences. No particular prior knowledge is required.

We will look at some key politicisations of biology from recent history (e.g. social Darwinism, eugenics) as well as a range of contemporary debates around biotechnology, human nature, and human diversity. If you are interested in exploring fundamental questions about human existence, and the political implications of the way we answer these questions, you should take this module.

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