University of Technology Sydney

48210 Interrogating Technology: Sustainability, Environment and Social Change

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Engineering: Professional Practice and Leadership
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level: Undergraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): ( 48250 Engineering Economics and Finance OR ((25115 Economics for Business OR 23115 Economics for Business)))


This subject focuses on developing engineering students' approaches to understanding the interactions between engineering and society from a philosophical, sociological and political perspective. The subject introduces students to theoretical frameworks and research tools for researching these interactions. Topical case studies of new technologies and engineering projects are examined to ground the learning in students engineering contexts.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Use appropriate research tools to interpret philosophical, sociological and political perspectives.
2. Apply relevant theoretical frameworks to interrogate and represent major ethical position about technology, society and the environment.
3. Evaluate diverse methods and techniques used to assess and mitigate technology impacts on the environment, society and the global commons from the point of view of professionals and communities to securing sustainable futures.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

  • Socially Responsible: FEIT graduates identify, engage, interpret and analyse stakeholder needs and cultural perspectives, establish priorities and goals, and identify constraints, uncertainties and risks (social, ethical, cultural, legislative, environmental, economics etc.) to define the system requirements. (B.1)
  • Design Oriented: FEIT graduates apply problem solving, design and decision-making methodologies to develop components, systems and processes to meet specified requirements. (C.1)
  • Collaborative and Communicative: FEIT graduates work as an effective member or leader of diverse teams, communicating effectively and operating within cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural contexts in the workplace. (E.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

Block mode subject, previews themes and tasks in intensive meetings with mini-lectures and group work.

Students need to engage in pre-session tasks on UTSOnline including guided reading and responding to set questions. During the block sessions students will use their work for peer review/discussions/sprint presentations and tutor feedback. Block sessions allow for groups of students to collaborate in preparation for assignments. Feedback for assignments are provided to students in a number of ways including UTSOnline one-to-one feedback, group feedback, one-to-one student-staff interviews and peer reviews.

This is complemented by rich online learning resources, materials and case studies and referral to relevant developments, upcoming events and exhibits in the session.

A program of readings and reflective blog postings scaffolds the learning required for critical perspectives to interrogate technologies in learning contracts.

Content (topics)

  1. Introduction and preview of themes and tasks
  2. 'Interrogating Technology’: critical perspectives on
    • Sustainability
    • Environment
    • Social Change
  3. Preview of Media Watch in groups
  4. Researching to ‘Interrogate Technology’: skills and resources
  5. Thinking about technological change
  6. How do we decide what is ethical?
  7. What do we regulate and why?
  8. Technology as a driver for policy change
  9. Policy as a driver for technology change
  10. Public participation and consultation as if people mattered
  11. Learning Contract Proposal Preview
  12. Sharing expertise: who is an expert?


Assessment task 1: Media Watch - Group Report & Peer Review


To examine how technological change is being discussed and understood in the public arena. Be reflexive about own perspectives and therefore more conscious as a professional who engages with stakeholders and non-engineers in the future.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):


This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):


Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 25%

Media Watch is 2000 words including 3 summaries of 250-300 words each. Media Watch Peer Review is 500 words.

Assessment task 2: Learning blog


Monitor the development of your ‘social literacy’.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):


This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):


Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Learning Blogs 1 and 4: 400 words and with references and a correctly formatted list in full. Blogs 2 and 3A/3B: 500 words including 250 for summary of article and with in-text references and a correctly formatted list in full.

Assessment task 3: Negotiated learning contract


Evaluate your learning strategies when undertaking an in-depth investigation of a topic relevant to this subject.


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):


This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):


Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 55%

2000 words plus references


This comprises 10% for approved Learning Contract Proposal and 45% for Learning Contract.

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

  • Interrogating Technology Readings, can be borrowed from Learning Precinct 11.05.300.

This is supplemented by selected sources posted on UTSOnline to extend choice of readings for the Learning Blog across the three themes of: technology and ethics; regulation and policy making, and expertise and public participation.

  • Morley-Warner, T. (2014). Academic writing is...: A guide to writing in a university context. Sydney: Sydney University Press.

Recommended texts

Maddison, S., & Denniss, R. (2013). An introduction to Australian public policy: Theory and practice (2nd ed.). Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.


Students will be required to complete readings from the texts mentioned in the Required texts section.

Other resources

There is a comprehensive Bibiography in the Learning Guide for this subject which is on UTSOnline. There will also be links to relevant Internet sites and Library references through the subject's UTSOnline site.

All students will have an account on the 48210 Interrogating Technology site on UTSOnline. All students are expected to check this site at least once a week for any Announcements. Subject staff will rely on students' email addresses registered on UTSOnline for out of class official communication during the semester; it is therefore essential that students ensure that their current email address is registered on UTSOnline, and that they check their email account at least once a week.