Department of Computer Science

This course covers some ethical and social considerations of computing, and explores practical approaches to them.

A sample course outline can be found here.

A Blistering Pace

The pace of change in technology, and how society uses it, is rapid. So how do we keep up with everything that's happening? The truth is that we don't. But we can get a good grasp of the broad trends, of the underlying processes that are fuelling the change and the inevitable progress - and conflict - that it brings. We can also consider our approach to ethical dilemmas, and see if there's are anything that can help us to distinguish between what we can do and what we should do. So that's what we do on this course.

We compare and contrast different approaches to solving thorny ethical problems. And we look at some real-life case studies of the impact of computers on society - and vice versa - from a vast pool that's growing on a daily basis.

Other useful information

There is no required course text for this course.

A recommended read for students wanting to study the issues in more depth is A Gift of Fire, by Sara Baase.

It's highly recommended that you take this course after taking COMP2005 Software Engineering.


Because the experience of working on a non-trivial group project will allow you to place the concepts that we cover on this course into much better context, including appreciating how hard it is in real life to consider all the implications of your actions as a software engineer.

Of course, that's just the ethical and professional aspects of the course. The rest of the course examines the social implications of computer science in several areas. If you want to prepare for that then simply read the news and try to pick out articles that reflect how technology is affecting what people do, why they do it and how it's changed the way that we communicate with each other.