Surveillance society
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleFTR-FIPPSB214
Credits (ECTS)5
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies; Opleiding Filosofie;
Contactperson for the course
dr. G. Treiber
Other course modules lecturer
dr. G. Treiber
Other course modules lecturer
dr. G. Treiber
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
SEM2  (29/01/2024 to 01/09/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
  • articulate several philosophical and societal stances about the intersections of new digital technologies, bid data and analog and digital surveillance;
  • compare and contrast, understand and analyze alternative perspectives on digital surveillance and the values most impacted by it such as privacy, autonomy, and equality;
  • familiarize yourself with the terminology and methods of reasoning about complex real-world issues from a plurality of perspectives;
  • critically develop an autonomous, critical reflection on issues such as big data, digital mass-surveillance, and the changes information technology has produced in contemporary societies.
Our world is increasingly being datafied. Never before have such vast quantities of digital data about people and their behavior been generated (and accumulated), from smartphone apps that record our supermarket purchases and how many steps we walk in a day to proctoring and facial recognition used by universities and the police. While this ubiquitous surveillance promises to enhance security, improve (health)care and refine the personalization of services, critical data scholars have pointed to the many risks it entails, from the curtailing of civil liberties and rights to the shrinking of the "breathing room" that we need to develop as autonomous subjects and to participate in democratic societies. In this course, we will learn about different theoretical frameworks for understanding surveillance's harms and affordances and how it changes and undermines specific values such as inclusion, privacy, autonomy, and the potential for non-conformity and resistance. We will use these to make sense of contemporary surveillance practices and learn how they shape our individualities and future societies.

Presumed foreknowledge
No previous knowledge is assumed in relation to surveillance or critical data studies. 
Test information
The main assessment of the course is a graded essay (80%) and a group presentation (20%). Participation is highly encouraged. 
This course is part of a module of three courses in the Philosophy, Politics and Society bachelor programme. You can only take this course if you also take the two associated courses during the same semester. If you want to register for the three courses in this module, you must FIRST register for the module itself via the 'Minor' tab in Osiris, and THEN register for the courses themselves. For an overview of modules and their associated courses, see the course guides on the website of the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies.

Instructional modes
Lecture and seminar
Attendance MandatoryYes

Test weight1
Test typeEssay
OpportunitiesBlock SEM2, Block SEM2