United Kingdom, London

AI and Global Digital Futures

when 29 June 2020 - 17 July 2020
language English
duration 3 weeks
credits 15 EC
fee GBP 1750

This three-week summer course explores critical debates related to artificial intelligence (AI) from a distinctly Global Southern perspective. Situated at the Centre for Global Media and Communication (CGMC) at SOAS, it provides a unique multi-disciplinary perspective to what are some of the key factors (and actors) driving today’s digital economy and the role of AI in imagining the future(s) of society. Unlike other courses dealing with the social, political and economic aspects of AI, the course focuses specifically on perspectives of countries from the Global South often omitted from the ongoing debates and controversies.

The course is structured in three parts. The first week theoretically frames the topic by exploring critical debates around the emergence of digital economy and “platform capitalism” and the different utopian and dystopian future imaginaries associated with this. In particular, it explores the emergence of the Western start-up model, technological innovation and "big data" as a driver for economic growth, and its ongoing economic, political and social ramifications in a distinctly postcolonial global context. During the second week, then, the course will focus on a series of specific case studies and themes related to AI and Digital Futures. During the third week, then, students will also develop their own mini-projects focusing on the themes raised by the course. These will culminate in the last two days of the course were students will present their own research projects, followed by a party

The lectures and case studies will be accompanied, depending on availability, by guest speakers from leading organisations working on AI globally such as Quilt.ai, Transparency International, Wikimedia Foundation and UN Habitat as well as visits to London based organisations.

Course leader

Dr. Matti Pohjonen

Target group

You will have completed one year of undergraduate study at the time of joining the Academic Summer School. Professional experience can be acknowledged as equivalent to a university qualification.

Course aim

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

- Understand and assess key emerging trends around AI and the global digital economy and critical debates around them from a distinctly Global South perspective
- Understand and assess critical debates on AI form the perspective of the Global South
- Build on critical theoretical understanding to build an original research project

Credits info

15 EC
Courses are worth 15 SOAS credits, which is equivalent to 4 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. If you intend to transfer credit to your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you apply. We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to transfer credit rests with your home institution.

Fee info

GBP 1750: Credit assessed - if you have opted to study for credit, you will be required to complete all course assessments. Should you complete the assessments with success, you will receive a transcript confirming your marks and credits.
EUR 1600: Non-assessed - if you have not chosen to study for credit, you will be exempt from any course assignments and not receive a mark.

There is a 10% early bird discount for applications received by 31st March 2020.


The SOAS Academic Summer School is delighted to offer four tuition-fee waiver scholarships to passionate students with a desire to make a difference in the world.

The scholarships will cover the tuition fee for one Academic Summer School course in 2020

Register for this course
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