Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POC3137: The Politics of Knowledge and Ignorance

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.

Please note that this module is only delivered on the Penryn Campus.


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

This module ran during term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Dr Karen Scott (Lecturer)





Available via distance learning


Can someone give informed consent to sex if they don’t know much about sex? Should university lecturers be impartial? When is ignorance a defence for wrong doing? What sort of intelligence could governments justifiably keep secret? What is the moral limit to freedom of information? What is the relationship between knowledge, evidence and truth? When does knowledge turn into injustice? What do we need to unlearn? Is knowing only about cognition? Taking Foucault as a starting point, this highly interactive module provides a critical introduction to knowledge theories applied to contemporary issues. Most political issues often have some form of knowledge controversy at the core or are contingent on the legitimation of certain knowledge. In our contemporary world knowledge is increasingly commodified (knowledge economies), explicitly challenged (‘fake news’/’alternative facts’), as a focus for fighting injustice (decolonising campaigns in universities) or assumed (criticisms of the #MeToo movement). All students will come to this from different places and everyone’s contribution will be respected. You will be guided to develop your own interests, leading to your assessment, an original ‘knowledge project’ based on a contemporary issue of concern.

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