Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3222: Biopolitics in Practice

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

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:


  • Key ideas and theories of biopolitics from the early 20th century to today
  • Evolution and questions of ‘human nature’ (e.g. Darwin and his opponents; eugenics; sociobiology; cognitive science)
  • Environments, society and agriculture (e.g. food and food production; environmental politics; human/animal relations)
  • Health and medicine (e.g. ethical debates over life and suffering; infectious diseases and biosecurity)
  • New technologies and futures (e.g. GM foods; gene editing; reproductive technologies; posthumanism; network societies)
  • Thinking through the dynamics and dilemmas of interactions between scientists, policymakers and politicians.
  • Following today’s biopolitical debates as they unfold in the media.




In addition, a dedicated ELE site will provide students with links to key texts and lecture materials.

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities4422x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study150 seminar preparation
Guided Independent Study106course work

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).

Somatosphere– Science, medicine, anthropology, bioethics: http://somatosphere.net/

Contagion– Historical views of diseases and epidemics: http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/contagion/

Making Science Public– science and society, biosciences: http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/

This View of Life– evolutionary perspectives: https://evolution-institute.org/this-view-of-life/


If you have any further questions please consult the Library staff.