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IP206 - Utopian Societies, Past and Present

  • Module code: IP206
  • Module name: Utopian Societies, Past and Present
  • Department: Liberal Arts
  • Credit: 15

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

Utopian Societies, Past and Present examines the utopian tradition as it is situated in changing social and historical contexts. It will critically examine the historiography of utopian social theory as it relates to ideas of progress and good citizenship. It will study utopian ventures in town planning, architecture and community building alongside fictional representations in art, film and literature. The module will explore how utopian projects, real and imaginary, comment on existing social structures in their attempt to construct a better life. Through the interrogation of diverse source material and case studies, the module will explore key topics in the utopian tradition, such as environmentalism, technology, gender, the family, labour, health, freedom and authority. It will critically consider the dystopian elements contained within the drive to reform self and society, and will assess the validity of theorisations of utopian decline in the twenty-first century. Using a transdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning approach, this module will encourage students to generate problems rising from utopian social theory and praxis, and to critique the scope, value and limitations of the utopian tradition.

Principal learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to: ◾Demonstrate an understanding of the key features and development of the utopian tradition in Western thought, art and practice. ◾Critically examine utopian ideologies and practices in relation to concepts of citizenship and community ◾Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of chronological and geospatial aspects of utopian thought, art and practice ◾Critically assess the scope and limitations of utopian ideology and practice as a means of social and/or political intervention ◾Critically assess theorisations of the decline of the utopian tradition in relation to contemporary practice ◾Demonstrate advanced cognitive skills such as critical analysis, source-text analysis, qualitative research methods and communication skills ◾Demonstrate meta-cognitive skills such as: planning how to approach a learning task and identifying the appropriate strategies to solve a problem. ◾Demonstrate the ability to use methodologies from sociology, visual cultures, art, history, English studies and cultural studies to analyse a range of sources in cultural and historical perspective

Timetabled teaching activities

10 x 2-hour seminars per week in Term 2

Departmental link

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
15 CATS (Module code: IP206-15)
A (Assessed work only) 1 hour test 10%
  3000 word Research Project 55%
  300 word Research Project Abstract 10%
  Group Presentation 25%
D (Assessed/examined work) 1 hour test 10%
  300 word Research Plan 10%
  Group Presentation 25%
  2 hour examination (Summer) 55%
VA (Visiting students only) 100% assessed (visiting/exchange students) 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core