ARTS 3011 - Humans and Technology: From Stone Tools to Cyborgs

North Terrace Campus - Winter - 2024

The young people of today will experience more change in their lifetimes than any previous generation of humans. They might even be the last generation of Homo sapiens. To grasp the magnitude of the current technological revolution, it is necessary to step back and place it in the bigger picture. This course explores the long history of the two-way relationship between humans and technology over the last 200,000 years. Humans create new forms of technology, but every significant technological innovation rewires society and changes us both physically and psychologically. During the course we examine in turn the impact on humans and human society of the following: (1) Stone tools, abstract language, and the domestication of fire; (2) The Neolithic agricultural revolution, metallurgy, and writing; (3) Gunpowder and the printing press; (4) The steam engine; (5) Telecommunications, e.g. telegraph, radio, television; (6) Digital technologies, genetic engineering and the hybridisation of humans and machines.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ARTS 3011
    Course Humans and Technology: From Stone Tools to Cyborgs
    Coordinating Unit Arts, Business, Law and Economics Faculty Office
    Term Winter
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 9 hours per week x 4 weeks
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Video presentation , Research essay , Take-home examination , Weekly participation notes
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Gareth Pritchard

    Telephone: 08 8313 4529
    ffice: Napier 508
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    This is an intensive Winter School course. Full details are available from the Course Planner. Attendance at classes is compulsory.
  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the relationship over time between technology, human society, and human biology and psychology.
    2 Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the impact of one specific technological innovation.
    3 Engage with the theoretical literature on humans and technology, identify the strengths and weaknesses of scholars’ arguments, and present independent conclusions in a variety of formats.
    4 Collaborate with other students in research tasks and the presentations of findings.
    5 Engage with the historical, political, social, biological, and ethical issues that are raised by the technological revolution of the twenty-first century.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    3, 4

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    4, 5

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    4, 5

    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    4, 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Essential resources for this course will be supplied in Myuni.
    Recommended Resources
    A list of recommend books, articles, websites, podcasts and videos is located in Canvas.
    Online Learning
    This course is offered in both face-to-face or fully online modes. Extensive use is made of Canvas as an interactive learning platform. 
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This summer-school course is taught over four weeks. Each week, students attend 3 x 2-hour workshops (24 hours in all). In addition, there are 3 hours of preparatory, structured learning activities each week (12 hours in all).In the workshops, we work our way through the following themes:
    1. Stone tools, abstract language, and the domestication of fire
    2. The Neolithic agricultural revolution, metallurgy, and writing
    3. Gunpowder and the printing press
    4. The steam engine
    5. Telecommunications, e.g. telegraph, radio, television
    6. Digital technologies, genetic engineering and the hybridisation of humans and machines
    The structured learning activities require students to take quizzes or post comments in response to readings, videos, and podcasts. The workshops will be discussion-based, but will also involve a wide range of learning tasks.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Workshops = 36 hours
    General reading and class preparation = 32 hours
    Assignments = 88 hours
    TOTAL = 156 HOURS
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course is based around intensive workshops. These will involve a range of activities, including quizzes, research exercises, class discussions and debates.
    Specific Course Requirements
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Due Weighting Learning Outcomes
    Weekly participation notes Formative and summative Weekly 20% 3, 5
    Video essay or research essay Formative and summative TBA 40% 2, 3, 4
    Take-home test Summative End of course 40% 1, 3, 5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Assessment Detail
    Weekly Notes: Each student will keep an on-line blog (lodged in Canvas) in which s/he will discuss her/his thoughts on the material that we have covered. These will be produced in class time. I will comment on what the students are writing, and they will comment on each other’s ideas. The blog will provide a space where students can experiment with their ideas. It also creates a dialogue between the teacher and the students, and the students and other students. The notes will not be presented as formal academic text and do not count towards the total word count for the course.

    Researchy essay or video: In the research essay, students will explore the impact of a specific technological innovation, drawing on the scholarly literature and framing their discussion in the light of the course’s main themes.

    Take-home test: The take-home exam asks students synoptic questions that require student to reflect on the history of technology and its implications for our understanding of the existential issues that now confront humanity.
    All assignments are submitted via Canvas.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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