30 Credits SPRING

Aims/Description: `Biopolitics¿ has been one of the most influential concepts in academic scholarship over the last 40 years. In its broadest form `biopolitics¿ refers to collective approaches to promote, regulate, understand and end life. This involves interventions around sexuality and fertility, promoting population growth or limitation, and counting, categorising, or otherwise defining human beings and human nature. It is often thought to be a modern invention, but this is contested. This course will introduce you to a wide variety of efforts to survey and control human populations, across more than a thousand years. You will learn about how states and other groups have tried to control and manage sexuality and reproduction, as well as infectious diseases and other perceived threats. You will learn about how human beings have been cast outside of `the normal¿ including those labelled as `mad¿ or `disabled¿. You will become adept at thinking across a wide variety of contexts, and comparing different approaches to defining and classifying humans - including according to raced and sexed identities. You will learn to use ideas of `biopolitics¿ to understand human societies and human identities. You will be able, by the end of the course, to think carefully and critically about the place of human bodies in various political systems - how bodies and life itself are controlled, restricted, promoted, marginalised and how humans¿ capacities are understood.

Restrictions on availability: Departmental approval required

Teaching Methods: Seminars, Tutorials, Independent Study
Assessment: Course work, Classroom testing

Information on the department responsible for this unit (History):

Departmental Home Page
Teaching timetable


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

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Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK