Teaching and Learning

Social Information Modules

The Department of Applied Social Sciences (DASS) offers a number of Modules exploring the social aspects of information. They are offered as part of the Information Services Management (ISM) MA course. This also includes a number of related teaching and learning initiatives.


There have been substantial social and technical developments in recent times. These changes need to be reflected in the learning and teaching environment so as to meet the changing needs in the workplace as expressed in various policy initiatives at national and international levels. Key developments can be summed up as:

• Rapid globalisation and development of the Information Society

• The need to ensure reflective learning among students

• The need to develop effective leadership skills

• The need to innovate in order to meet changing needs

• Workforce development to meet new challenges as an on-going process.

While developments in technological aspects of the information and knowledge development are generally well developed, important social aspects may lag behind, unless teaching and learning programmes keep pace. As the need for skills in the market changes, University teaching is in danger of becoming less attractive if it does not provide the required skills.

At the national level, the Modernising Government White Paper, 1999 highlighted the central role of policies in translating political vision into programmes and actions to deliver 'outcomes' - "desired changes in the real world". (Modernising Government White Paper, 1999).

Prof. Hepworth sees the need for change in the role of public libraries: "the emphasis [for public libraries] should shift to whether libraries help governments promote their wider health, educational and social objectives".

Information services are expected to play a key role in this shift in society. This is underpinned by legislative requirements such as the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Human Rights Act (1998) and the establishment of the Commission on Equality and Human Rights.

At the international level, the World Summit on the Information Society’s (WSIS) Action Plan "sets time-bound targets to turn the vision of an inclusive and equitable Information Society into reality". At WSIS Geneva in December 2003, World leaders declared "our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

At a wider, global level, recent change has seen the rapid economic and hence political, rise of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). South and East Asia are fast becoming the engine rooms of the world, with China already having overtaken Britain as the fourth largest economy in the world. In such a rapidly changing situation, it is essential that Universities help Britain maintain its competitive edge in the world. This can be best done by developing a stronger information and knowledge society. Prof. Hepworth explains the role that libraries and information services need to play:

But while there have been success stories such as the MLA-managed The People’s Network… Hepworth thinks that the internet is "not the same as knowledge. Knowledge is converting that information into something of economic or social value. That’s what libraries are there to do and I think more can be built up around the web".

… Hepworth thinks that libraries "should be a showcase for the global economy. I can’t see another place that can do it". If only more people realised.

These DASS initiatives also seeks to address an important gap in the teaching and learning programmes in the information management sector. This is in relation to the fundamental question: "what is information for"? Too often this question is not even raised, or if raised, no coherent answers are explored. Different people with different interests and perspectives respond to this in different ways. The Module "Information for Development" explores theories and practices in this area and will also include the aspect of social and human justice within its remit. A new modules just introduced - "Innovation and development in information services" - examines the role of leadership and the need for introducing organisational change within the context of meeting "developmental" needs of individuals, communities, and countries. "Information and Social Exclusion" looks at issues of social justice in the context of exclusion from information. Projects such as the "Quality Leaders Project - Youth" (QLP-Y) and the "Progressive African Library and Information Activists’ Group (PALIAct)" help to bridge the gaps between theory and practice, between ideas and action, between the academic world and real workplaces.

Students, and sometimes employers, may not always be fully aware of the changing needs in a changing world. Nor would they always be in a position to decide what steps are necessary to bring about the desired changes and outcomes.

It thus falls on Universities to have a long term view and vision of the learning and teaching needs that a society faces in order to ensure national and personal well being. It is their responsibility to meet the needs of the society through developing appropriate and relevant learning and teaching programmes. The DASS Modules and projects listed below are such attempts.

Some key documents

Ideas and issues in social exclusion. No. 1 (September 2006)

Communities of resistance and change (March 2007)

Diaspora connect (June 2007) ? Ideas and issues: an irregular current awareness service which alerts you to new ideas, experiences, reports and developments of relevance to the key themes of the modules. It is meant to supplement the recommended readings and aims to give you a wider perspective and increase your awareness about current developments in Britain as well as in other countries. No. 1 November, 2007.

Aslib Proceedings

Volume 59 Issue 2 2007

Special issue: UK library & information schools: London Met

• Research in the School of Information Management, London Metropolitan University . Rosemary McGuinness (pp. 121-124)

• Managing the relationship between knowledge and power in organisations. Catherine Kelly (pp. 125-138)• The I in information architecture: the challenge of content management. Sue Batley (pp. 139-151)

• Phenomenography: a conceptual framework for information literacy education. Susie Andretta (pp.152-168)• Post-structuralism, hypertext, and the World Wide Web

Luke Tredinnick (pp. 169-186)

• Learning by doing: Lifelong learning through innovations projects at DASS . Shiraz Durrani (pp. 187-200)



Society, Information and Policy

Module code: CMP068N

The development of the information society and the regulatory environment which has evolved as a result is the focus of this module. The disparities in the information society are examined, both global and national and the projects and policies which have emerged to reduce these differences are evaluated. The application of information policies in organisations are considered and the role information plays in citezenship is fully explored.

Module aims

1. To chart the development of the information sector and economy and to introduce students to the theories and paradigms of information policy.

2. To critically analyse the political, social and economic context in which information circulates at national and international levels.

3. To examine and evaluate the applications of information policies at an organisational level in various sectors and to examine techniques in designing information policies

4. To provide critical awareness of the role of information in democracy and citizenship; legal framework of information policy; the State and information; current debates around the public sphere

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able to:

1. Identify and map out the elements which make up aspects of the information society and apply and critically evaluate the theories underlying the informaiton society and be able to distinguish various models and paradigms of information policy.

2. Delineate and measure the impact of information policies at macro level from international, regional and national perspectives. Appraise the role of organisations such as UNESCO and the World Bank in bridging the North-South divide and assess the influence of the EU and US on the UK. Critically evaluate the application of national information policies and their contribution to the information society in relation to the public library network and public service broadcasting.

3. Assess the strategic value of information at a micro level and the policies to manage it within organisations. Evaluate the contribution information policies make to the functions of organisations in the commercial and voluntary sectors, and to UK public organisations such as the NHS and Higher Education.

4. Critically evaluate information policies to bridge the gap between the information rich and the information poor in the UK and estimate the effectiveness of policies which protect information as an asset. Measure the relationship between information and democracy in the UK in the light of such policies as Data Protection and Freedom of Information.

Assessment strategy

1. 2,500 word piece of coursework to enable students to develop a more in-depth analysis in a particular area.

2. 2,500 word project proposal based on a real workplace situation or a case study to develop a "policies into action" plan to address new policy initiatives. The plan will include: the rational, new policy initiatives being addressed; proposed changes (organisational or service); consultation proposals; resources implication; staff development and training needs; expected outcomes; timescales.

Information and Social Exclusion

Module code: CMP067N

This Module explores issues of diversity and cultural pluralism in the context of provision of information and library services.

Module aims

1. To provide an understanding of the concept of cultural pluralism in contemporary society and to examine its relation to the information and communication process

2. To critically examine the role of information policy in a socially inclusive society and to provide an awareness of the specific information needs of minority communities and community and community organisations.

3. To examine the nature and range of community information and community information networks and their role in the provision of information services for various "publics".

Learning outcomes

By the end of this Module, students should be able to:

• Critically analyse the characteristics of various minority communities and assess their needs in the context of information service provision

• Evaluate the development of information networks and their impact on minority communities in terms of access to information

• Describe the channels of information transfer in various minority communities and critically assess the impact of new information technology on local and other minority communities.



A 2,000 word report providing a critical analysis of the characteristics of one minority community, identifying their information needs, and making recommendations for the

provision of appropriate library and information services.


An 2,000 word essay examining communication channels in minority communities. This work consists of:

i) identifying and describing the traditional and IT-based

channels of information transfer in minority communities.

ii) an analysis of the effectiveness of formal and informal

communication channels within one minority community.

Information for Development

Module code: CMP069N

This Module examines critically the central role of information as a tool of development, placing information in the context of social justice, seeing information as a basic human right the lack of which retards social, personal and national development.

Module aims

1. To raise critical awareness of the role of information in society

2. To examine "development" in its broadest sense and analyse factors that hinder or enhance development

3. Increase awareness of national and international social justice policies and practice as they related to the information sector

4. Provide an understanding of the relationship between the three elements of this Module - information, development and social justice and to assess information and knowledge in their dynamic social context.

Learning outcomes

Develop skills and abilities in:

1. Identifying and analysing communications and information policies and practices

2. Understanding the role of information and knowledge as essential ingrediants of development

3. Understanding and analysing theories and practices associated with social justice within the information context.


1. Critical analysis of the contribution of information in the development of a chosen country over a specified time period (2,000 words)

2. Critical examination of a social justice policy, analysing how the policy provided access to information which then contributed to development (2,000 words)

Innovation and Development in Information Services

Module code: CMP073N

This module explores the contribution that innovation and effective leadership can make in ensuring that information services play an active role in meeting the challenge of social development in the context of rapid globalisation.

Module Aims

1. To raise critical awareness of the role of information in ensuring social justice.

2. To examine the concepts of "innovation" and "development" in their broadest sense and analyse factors that hinder or enhance development.

3. To introduce participants to concepts of innovation, effective leadership, equality and diversity as they relate to information services and their role in organisational development.

4. To develop critical reflective practice by applying theories to practice .Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Critically define the concepts of innovation, development, leadership, equality and diversity in the context of delivering information services to meet needs in a globalised world

2. Assess the strategic need for, and value of, organisational change in information services

3. Understand the requirements for organisational change in information services as a way of ensuring social justice.

4. Apply critical reflection to ensure that services meet social requirements.


1. Understanding key concepts: innovation, development, leadership, equality, globalisation

2. Social and political context and trends influencing information services

3. National and international policies impacting on information services

4. Turning ideas and policies into action


1. An essay (c. 1,000 words) comparing and contrasting two situations where different organisational leadership/change programmes have been applied in meeting changing needs of all citizens. Critically analyse factors which contributed to success. (20% of total module marks).

2. A project proposal (c. 3,000 words including summary), based on a workplace situation or a case study, to develop a new service based on principles of social justice as a way of meeting emerging needs. It should include a 500 word summary of the proposal for publishing the in-house electronic journal "Information, Society and Justice" (60%).

3. A reflective commentary (c. 1,000 words) on how engaging with the learning objectives of this Module has helped you in reaching a better understanding of the dynamics of organisational change (20%).


  Page last updated : : 30 Sep 2007