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The University of Southampton

COMP6217 The Science of Online Social Networks

Module Overview

Web 2.0 is the name given to the second generation of web sites that came along in the mid 2000's and that are now household names (YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, etc.) These sites focused on content that was generated by users, rather than the site's owners, and thus shifted the balance of power on the Web from a technical few to the masses. As a result Web 2.0 technology is as much about participation, collaboration and social relationships as it is about web standards or content. In this course we will look at both the technology underpinning social media, and the science that is trying to analyze its use. The course has two parts: 1) A lecture and seminar series, with three aims: - To understand how to measure the performance and behaviours of social networks - To understand the impact of social networks on different domains - To understand the challenges and affordances of social networking for society 2) A practical portfolio-based project, with one aim: To help students develop design skills for social networks, with an awareness of the broader impact of their design choices This is a course that touches on many issues that we see everyday in the news and media, and we hope that it will capture the excitement around Web 2.0 and Social Media. This is our Guttenberg, let's be part of it.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Methodologies for social network analysis
  • Ways in which social network can influence developments in domains such as e-learning, enterprise and media
  • Critical considerations of societal requirements such as digital literacy, privacy, influence
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Establish the potential of social networking technologies in specific contexts and domains
  • Articulate appropriate frameworks for the analysis of particular social networks
  • Communicate current societal challenges and anticipate emerging challenges
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work in a software design team
  • Evaluate existing software systems and infrastructures
  • Present a technological solution within a broader context
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Design appropriate social network solutions and interface or extend the designs of existing social network infrastructures
  • Identify and analyse social network characteristics
  • Identify and interpret domain and societal requirements for the deployment of social network solutions


The topics covered will reflect the latest research and development activities in social networking. Including: - History of Social Networking Technologies and the Web - Digital Literacy and Web 2.0 systems - Online social networks and business - Graph theory and social networks - Game theory and social networks - Network dynamics - Linked Data and the Social Semantic Web (FOAF, SKOS, etc.) - Privacy and identity in online social networks - Power and influence in online social networks - Trust in online social networks

Learning and Teaching

Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Completion of assessment task44
Wider reading or practice10
Follow-up work18
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

This module will be assessed 60% by exam and 40% by coursework that will include a significant group project element. Students will be required to design and present a social networking application, system or tool; students will: - Prepare of portfolio of design materials - Take into account requirements for a specific context or domain - Explain the broader social, economic and legal impact of their solution Students will work in small groups to develop new applications or extend existing infrastructures and they will produce a portfolio of design evidence to accompany their software prototype. Subsequently, they will be required to pitch this portfolio in a presentation to a panel of experts from a range of different disciplines such as sociology, law, computer science and economics. Coursework marking scheme (out of 100, worth 40%): - Portfolio of design materials – 60% - Dragon’s Den Presentation – 20% - Personal Reflection – 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 60%
Project 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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