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Ethics and Responsible Innovation:  2019-2020




Students will attend 4 lectures in Michaelmas and 2 practicals in Hilary. Lecture 1 will cover core topics relating to normative positions in ethics, fundamental ethical principles etc. Lecture 4 will focus on the promotion of best ethical practice in computer science through codes of practice and the Responsible Innovation framework. Lectures 2 and 3 will will forefront ethical challenges facing contemporary computer science in specific areas. Students will be encouraged to consider these challenges from a variety of perspectives and apply normative ethical positions to them. They will also be encouraged to consider potential solutions to overcome these challenges. Students will be given a short reading before each lecture to help them prepare for its content. Lectures will be interactive in format and incorporate discussion questions, which are designed to encourage students to reflect on the complexities inherent to the consideration of ethics in computer science. Students will attend 2 seminars. In these sessions they will carry out assessed groupwork tasks. The aim of the practicals is for students to apply what they have learnt from the lectures and readings as well as their own reflections. The cohort will be split into classes of around 22 and students will work in small groups to conduct a task that requires them to consider and discuss the ethical and responsible innovation issues arising from a specific scenario.

Students will be assessed individually. During the seminars they will be assessed in terms of the participation in the groupwork and class activities. At the end of the course each student will also submit a one page written overview of their reflections of the course. This will be assessed. The three assessment marks will be combined to give a global grade for the course: S-, S or S+

Learning outcomes

· To introduce students to core ethical principles and theoretical positions in computer science

· To develop students’ understanding of how these principles and positions relate to computer science in practice

· To develop students’ understanding of ethical challenges and controversies that arise in areas of contemporary computer science research and practice

· To introduce students to the field of Responsible Innovation (RI) and enable them to understand how RRI approaches can benefit computer science projects

· To encourage students to reflect on the different ways through which ethical challenges in computer science can be addressed

· To encourage students to reflect on their own behaviours and attitudes regarding ethics and responsibility in computer science.

Reading list


Miller (Ed.) (2014) The Bloomsbury Companion to Ethics *

Scherling and DeRosa (Eds.) (2020) Ethics in Design and Communication: New Critical Perspectives* 

Attfield (2012) Ethics: An overview

Gregory (2003) Ethics in Research


Responsible Innovation

van den Hoven, Doorn, Swiestra, Kopps and Romijn (2014) Responsible Innovation 1: Innovative Solutions for Global Issues*
Koops, Oosterlaken, Romijn, Swierstra and van den Hoven (2015) Responsible Innovation 2: Concepts, Approaches and Applications*

Iatridis and Schroeder (2016) Responsible Research and Innovation in Industry


Students are formally asked for feedback at the end of the course. Students can also submit feedback at any point here. Feedback received here will go to the Head of Academic Administration, and will be dealt with confidentially when being passed on further. All feedback is welcome.