module specification

AR7008 - The Question of Technology  (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title The Question of Technology 
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75% 50 4000 word Essay *FC*
Coursework 25%   Seminar Report
Attendance Requirement 0%   Attendance Requirement
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City - Morning

Module summary

The module explores the relation of the broader intellectual context of technology to architecture.


Prior learning requirements


Module aims

This module examines the concept of technology historically and philosophically in order to get a clearer idea of its relation to architecture. It questions current assumptions that the progress of technology is inevitable.


The module begins by looking at the pre-technological world through texts by Plato and Aristotle and by examining concepts like poeisis, techne and mimesis. Next it considers texts by Bacon and Descartes in order to discover the origins of the dualistic world-view that is a precondition of the technological world. This is followed by a brief survey, through some popular writings, of topics such as artificial intelligence, post-human evolution, genetic engineering and artificial life. Finally twentieth century philosophical texts by Heisenberg, Heiddegger and others form the basis of a critique of the technological world.

Learning and teaching

The module is conducted mainly through seminars and visits and encourages independent thought.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student should be able to:

  1. think critically with some precision about questions of technology in design;

  2. use historical and cultural materials imaginatively in pursuing such questions;

  3. construct a clear and forceful argument;

  4. apply the specific subject matter of the module to other contexts;
  5. interpret productively the cultural setting in which design occurs/takes place.

Assessment strategy

Module assessment is based on a 4000 word essay on a topic agreed with the tutor and related to the subject material of the seminar(75%)together with a seminar presentation (25%).The pass mark for the module is to be calculated as an aggregate of the components weighted accordingly, with the proviso that the candidate must pass Component 1 (the essay).


  1. Aristotle,Physics, Book II, translated with introduction and notes by W. Charlton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970)
  2. Armstrong, Rachel, 'Post Human Evolution' in Artifice 2 (London: University College, 1995)
  3. Boden, Margaret A,, ed.,The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence (Oxford University Press, 1990)
  4. Descartes, René,A Discourse on Method; Meditations on the First Philosophy; Principles of Philosophy, translated by John Veitch, introduction by Tom Sorell (London: Dent, 1986)
  5. Heidegger, Martin,'The Question Concerning Technology' in Basic Writings (London: Routledge, 1993)
  6. Heisenberg, Werner, 'The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory' and 'The Development of Philosophical Ideas Since Descartes' in Physics and Philosophy (London: Penguin, 1990)
  7. Jencks, Charles,The Architecture of the Jumping Universe (London: Academy, 1995)
  8. Pawley, Martin,Terminal Architecture (London: Reaktion Books,1998)
  9. Frampton, Kenneth,Studies in Tectonic Culture: the poetics of construction in nineteenth and twentieth century architecture (London: Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, 1995)
  10. Kelly, Kevin,Out of Control:The New Biology of Machines (London: Fourth Estate, 1994)
  11. Mitchell, William J.,City of Bits: space, place and the infobahn (London: MIT Press, 1995)
  12. Perez-Gomez, Alberto,Architecture and the Crisis of Modern Science (London: MIT Press, 1983)