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The University of Southampton

WEBS6201 Foundations of Web Science

Module Overview

The World Wide Web has changed the world. It has changed the ways we communicate, collaborate, and educate. We increasingly live in a Web-dependent society in a Web-dependent world. The Web is also the largest human information construct and it is growing faster than any other system. Web Science aims to predict the impact that future developments in the Web will have on society or business, from search engines and social media to the forthcoming Web of Things. Web Science is the study of the social behaviours in the Web at the inter-person, inter-organisational and societal level, the technologies that enable and support this behaviour, and the interactions between these technologies and behaviours. It is therefore inherently interdisciplinary and represents a fundamental collaboration between computer science and the social sciences. This module provides an introduction to Web Science methods, the issues that it addresses and an appreciation of the diverse set of disciplines that make up this multidisciplinary research area. This module does not require technical Web expertise in the form of programming or Web site administration. It does require experience of using a wide variety of Web sites and services.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To introduce you to a range of topics on the science of the Web. Elsewhere you will have learned how to create web sites and web applications; Web Science is the study of the impact of the Web on human society, and also the effect that human society is having on the future development of the web.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Know the historic context of the development of the Web
  • Appreciate the socio-technical nature of Web phenomena
  • Understand key sociological theories about development of technology
  • Be familiar with different discioplinary perspectives on the nature and utility of the Web
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use sociological theories to describe and predict the nature of the Web in general and specific kinds of Web engagements
  • Identify the positive and negative issues (e.g. communication, privacy, piracy,) that the Web enables
  • Choose useful research tools to analyse Web deployments


- Web History - Analysis of Web Usage - Philosophy of Science - Sociology of Scientific Knowledge - Social Construction of Technology - Actor Network Theory - Cyborg Manifesto - Cognisphere - Perspectives on the web from sociology, psychology, politics, maths, languages, law, engineering etc.

Learning and Teaching

Follow-up work10
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Completion of assessment task70
Wider reading or practice34
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Blog Post 50%
Essay 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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