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SO9B2 - Cultures of Life, Authority and Power in Modernity

  • Module code: SO9B2
  • Module name: Cultures of Life, Authority and Power in Modernity
  • Department: Sociology
  • Credit: 20

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault argued that something like a culture of life (believing in and valorising the processes of biological growth, evolution and survival) has been central to the formation and experience of modern regimes of power. This module begins with a close reading of two key texts that have put political cultures of life – or biopolitics – on the social theory agenda: The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 1. We will conduct close readings of these texts and critically discuss them in order to think through the functioning of power in modern society.

Principal learning outcomes

The module is built around discussion and critical engagement, with an expectation that students will read the core texts and come to seminars prepared to discuss and question them. The seminars will also involve student presentations each week that will raise questions to guide our discussions.

Timetabled teaching activities

This module will run in the Autumn Term.

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
20 CATS (Module code: SO9B2-20)
A (Assessed work only) 4000 word essay 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core


  • Postgraduate Taught Social and Political Thought (L3P8) - Year 2
  • Postgraduate Taught Sociology (L3PD) - Year 2
  • Postgraduate Taught Social Research (L3PE) - Year 2
  • Postgraduate Taught Gender and International Development (M9P7) - Year 2