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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Informatics : Informatics

Undergraduate Course: Professional Issues (Level 10) (INFR10022)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Informatics CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe aim of the course is to highlight and allow students to develop understanding of key aspects of the wider context in which their practice as Informatics professionals will occur.  Students will develop individual capabilities that complement the technical capacities developed elsewhere in Informatics programmes.  These include communication, reflection, reasoning and analysis skills that consider the broader ethical and social implications of their work.
Course description The course will be structured around professional and ethical behaviour, and the wider context in which technologies are developed and deployed. Beginning with the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, the course will consider the wider context technologies are developed within and teach students to be considerate in their role as ICT professionals.

A standard breakdown of the course can be expected to be:
- Introduction (week 1 - gives an overview of the course)
- Responsibility (2 weeks, ACM principles 1.1, 1.2, 1.4): this will cover the responsibility of computing professionals. It will explore the notion of harms in the context of complex, multi-stakeholder situations, where benefit and harm are contested.
- Personal Attributes (2 weeks, ACM principles 1.3, 1.5, 1.6 and 1.7): this will cover personal attributes and why these are important by covering a range of situations that challenge professional integrity and work out how to respond to such challenges.
- Society (3 weeks, ACM principles 3.1, 3.2, 3.6 and 3.7) this will cover the obligations of computing professionals to recognise broader social requirements on their actions, particularly in areas where decisions involve the creation of new infrastructures that will underpin the delivery of public services or they are likely to be incorporated into widely used privately-owned platforms.
- Leadership (2 weeks, ACM principles 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5) will cover leadership amongst computing professionals, the obligations on leaders to ensure their leadership is fair and benefits those who are being led. This section will include a reflection on how these materials are taught.

The course will use articles and research from the social sciences, alongside short case studies drawn from contemporary situations that illustrate how knowledge of the decision-making context influences professional conduct and decision-making. Students will develop analytical skills to identify the critical influences on professionals in a range of real-world situations.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Informatics Project Proposal (INFR11147) AND Informatics Research Proposal (INFR11071)
Other requirements This course is open to all undergraduate Informatics students including those on joint degrees. For external students where this course is not listed in your DPT, please seek special permission from the course organiser (lecturer).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students are required to have comparable background to that assumed by the course prerequisites listed in the Degree Regulations & Programmes of Study.
If in doubt, consult the course organiser (lecturer).
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 58 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%

The summative coursework assessment will comprise the following:

- Short essay portfolio (80%)
- Peer writing review (10%)
- Discussion contributions (10%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify a range of professional and unprofessional behaviour in ICT- related contexts and recommend remedial action.
  2. Identify broader social and ethical considerations influencing the work of ICT professionals and how their work might be mindful of these.
  3. Identify legitimate interests of broader society in computing systems and suggest approaches incorporating these into development.
  4. Identify potential harms and benefits of the interventions of computing professionals, considering different stakeholder viewpoints and frameworks.
  5. Identify examples of good and poor leadership and suggest leadership approaches which themselves encourage and uphold professional conduct.
Reading List
Professional Issues in Information Technology, 2nd Edition, Frank Bott, BCS Learning & Development Limited, 2014.
ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Practice
BCS Code of conduct
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr James Garforth
Course secretaryMrs Michelle Bain
Tel: (0131 6)51 7607
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