COMP SCI 7212 - Human and Ethical Factors in Computer Science

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2021

In this course, students will be introduced to two important areas in contemporary computing: human factors and ethical theory and practice. In human factors, students will study all areas that assist us in performing work in an appropriate manner. In ethics, students will study those areas that discuss whether the tasks that we seek to achieve fit our definitions of what is right for individuals, companies, and our society. By combining these two areas of study, participants will be introduced to tools, thinking, and analyses to establish whether the computing tasks they are being asked to perform are fit for purpose in terms of both usage and ethics. At the end of this course, students will have a sound understanding of key issues in ethics and human factors, be able to compare approaches and propose solutions, and have participated in a number of authentic activities to give them confidence as future professional practitioners in this sphere.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMP SCI 7212
    Course Human and Ethical Factors in Computer Science
    Coordinating Unit Computer Science
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Nickolas Falkner

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Upon completion of this course/subject, students will be able to:
    1. discuss identified human and ethical factors that can affect digital solutions
    2. discuss ethical factors from a traditional ethical and code of conduct based focus
    3. critically evaluate digital solutions from an ethical perspective
    4. evaluate solutions to address human and ethical issues in the design of digital solutions
    5. develop solutions to address human and ethical issues in the design of digital solutions
    6. advocate strategies and processes that meet accepted societal and ethical standards for the design of digital solutions
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    A detailed list of readings and course resources are provided through the University Library and as a reading list.
    Online Learning
    The majority of the course is available as on-line modules, with an optional delivery mode of on-line for the tutorial. On-line delivery is provided through the MyUni system.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course is presented as six themes, with introductory readings and videos, combined with self-directed reseach towards a project goal. Students will have regular contact with lecturing staff to received feedback and guidance, as well as very regular opportunities for peer feedback.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The expected workload is 10 hours/week, with an additional 30 hours to complete assignment work, for a total of 150 hours across the semester.
    Learning Activities Summary

    There are a wide range of learning activities in this course: recorded lectures, discussions, readings, case studies, quizzes, peer review, written assignments, and interactive on-line elements.

    The breakdown of themes and objectives is:


    Theme One: Human factors
    Summary: How do you want to be accommodated?

    By the end of this theme, students should be able to:
    1. provide examples of human factors
    2. identify human factors that affect the design of digital solutions
    3. evaluate digital solutions, considering issues relating to human factors
    4. propose solutions that take into account human factor design guidelines and principles.

    Theme Two: Fundamental ethics
    Summary: How do you want to be treated?

    By the end of this theme, students should be able to:
    1. differentiate the foundational ethics systems
    2. analyse the role of ethics in the design of digital solutions
    3. incorporate the key concepts of foundational ethical approaches in the evaluation of a digital solution or case

    Theme Three: Applied ethics (combination of human and fundamental ethics)
    Summary: How do you want the world to work?

    By the end of this theme, students should be able to:
    1. distinguish between human factors of conscious and unconscious bias and how they have impacted the design of digital solutions
    2. recommend steps to mitigate ethical dilemmas, drawing on foundational ethical approaches
    3. incorporate key concepts of applied ethics to analyse cases
    4. explain the relationships between ethics and moral behaviour.

    Theme Four: Professional practice (ethics and human factors in society)
    Summary: How do you want your workplace to operate?

    By the end of this theme, students should be able to:
    1. compare and contrast industry and professional codes of conduct and use them to identify human and ethical risks
    2. discuss legal considerations that arise according to professional and industry codes of conduct
    3. advocate strategies and processes that meet accepted societal and ethical standards
    4. use codes of conduct and design guidelines to identify risks in digital projects.

    Theme Five: A history of massive failures!
    Summary: How would you handle a catastrophically unethical situation?

    By the end of this theme, students should be able to:
    1. analyse an example of an ethical issue in history
    2. analyse a case study from a digital solution and examine ethical and human factors that are problematic
    3. propose alternative solutions to address ethical risks
    4. evaluate their own code against a scenario and summarise conflicts.

    Theme Six: Ethics in reality
    Summary: How do you navigate ethics in the real world?

    By the end of this theme, students should be able to:
    1. contrast expectations, assumptions and reality in ethics
    2. synthesise a final, working version of their ethical code, with notes of risk and opportunities
    3. sequence the process of reporting ethical issues
    4. appraise working with another culture against professional or industry codes of conduct their ethical code
    5. analyse and evaluate issues in a case study and suggest remediation.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Name Due Weighting Learning Outcomes Related Themes
    Analysis - shortcomings in human factors and ethics (1500 words) Start Week 4 20% 1,2,3,4,5 1,2,3
    Case Study A (1500 words) Week 8 30% 1,2,3,4,5 1,2,3,4
    Case Study B (1500 words) Week 12 30% 1,2,3,4,5,6 1,2,3,4,5,6
    Take home paper Week 13 20% 1,2,3,4,5,6 1,2,34,5,6

    Assessment Detail

    The initial report is a situational analysis of the provided example to identify issues in human factors and ethics. Students will follow a rubric to provide a short report on their findings.

    The purpose of the case study assessment is to develop student skill in case study analysis and to test knowledge of coursework to date. Students will analyse a case study and apply their knowledge of human factors and ethical issues to critique the scenario presented and provide solutions. Again, rubrics will be used to evaluate the student's work.

    The take home paper will present a complicated or detailed situation that requires the student to apply all of their knowledge of the course to analyse and respond to.

    All student work will be submitted through MyUni, as directed by the assessment instructions.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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