Digital infrastructures for business IS1181

This course provides an introduction to the digital infrastructures upon which business, government and wider society increasingly depend.

These infrastructures include the Internet and the various applications and services that it supports and enables, such as the World Wide Web, as well as other more specialised systems and services. The course prepares students for further in-depth study of digital innovation in later units.

Prerequisites / Exclusions

This course may not be taken with:

  • IS1168 Introduction to computer systems architecture and programming.

Topics covered

The unit provides an introductory understanding of the concept of an infrastructure. The particular focus is on the digital infrastructures that underpin so much of business, government and social life - including the Internet and World Wide Web, and the many other systems and services that build upon these. Concepts and theories are introduced that help us understand The emergence of digital infrastructures, their architecture (structure), their economics, and the kinds of services they offer including access to data services and communications capacity.

Students learn to apply a critical perspective to this topic, developing understanding in how to explore the opportunities and risks of these infrastructures as seen by various groups of people. The course considers the issues and challenges faced by decision makers in government, businesses and infrastructure provider organisations as digital infrastructures become more central in economic and social life. This includes issues of national and international standards, laws and regulation. The course also addresses these issues as they relate to the individual user of digital services.

To provide focus and depth, the course focuses on the Internet as our most general and fundamental digital infrastructure for communication, and the World Wide Web as the core information infrastructure. It also considers three other digital infrastructures of relevance today: cloud computing, mobile devices, and social media. You will learn the key characteristics of the technologies that underpin each case, how these infrastructures have emerged, and how they are being used by individuals, businesses and governments. The unit allows students to obtain a robust understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of current developments in digital infrastructures and to apply this to other contemporary examples including concepts of platforms, business model innovation and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Describe the concept of an infrastructure and relate it to digital systems and services.
  • Discuss how digital infrastructures are structured and how they are used.
  • Identify and apply theories and models to understand the evolution of digital infrastructures and their roles in fostering innovation.
  • Analyse three contemporary examples of digital infrastructures in use: cloud computing, mobile services and social media, using relevant examples.
  • Understand how and why some digital infrastructures become globally pervasive.
  • Assess relevant issues of public policy, laws and regulations in regional, national and international settings.
  • Apply concepts and theories learnt to other emergent digital infrastructures.


Unseen written exam (3 hrs).

Essential reading

  • Laudon, K.C. and Laudon, J.P. Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm. Harlow: Pearson, 2015. 14th edition.
  • Zittrain, J.L. The Future of the Internet. Yale University Press & Penguin UK, 2008.

Course information sheets

Download the course information sheets from the LSE website.