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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Engineering : Civil

Undergraduate Course: Learning from Engineering Failures 5 (CIVE11053)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Engineering CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Year 5 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis class on engineering failures will draw together the technical, ethical and design content from previous years to show how professional engineers can, and do, make mistakes that can result in catastrophic failures. The role that failure plays in engineering design will be explored, and the interaction between technical systems and society will explored.
Course description The course will be based around a series of case studies which will be used to elucidate key ethical, professional, governance, and societal issues. The primary focus will be civil and structural engineering failures, but the class will also draw on failures from other disciplines.
Each lecture will use a different case study (or case studies) to illustrate the thematic links between failures. Over the course of the class the following will be explored:

1 - The governance challenges of regulation and safety management of technological systems, and societal framing of risk and resilience goals.
2 - The ethical considerations for professional engineers and the conflicts that they may experience as part of the working lives.
3 - The knowledge issues that emerge (and are inherent to) understanding and managing the performance of complex technical systems.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 68 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam %: 0%
Practical Exam %: 0%
Coursework %: 100%
Feedback The class will be run as a lecture and seminar during which students will be posed a series of discussion topics related to the material in the lecture. Course staff will discuss with the students during the class and give guidance about key topics and ideas.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a critical understanding of the principal theories and concepts used to understand the way that engineering practice interacts with broader societal factors;
  2. Engage critically with relevant literature on risk, resilience, and regulation;
  3. Develop the ability to use one of the frameworks/conceptual approaches to analyse a specific case study;
  4. Assess competing claims and critically review the methods used to create engineering designs;
  5. Understand the key elements of engineering professions, and the ethical requirements and societal sanctions therein.
Reading List
Henri Petroski (2012), To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure. 978-0674065840
Scott Knowles (2011) The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America.
Scott Knowles (2014) Engineering Risk and Disaster: Disaster-STS and the American History of Technology, Engineering Studies 6(3), 227-248.
Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch (2002) The Golem at Large: What you should know about technology.
Charles Perrow (1984) Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Luke Bisby
Course secretaryMrs Wendy McCartan
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