Ensuring that Social and Ethical Issues are Addressed Within a Postgraduate Software Engineering Unit: A Case Study.

Helen Edwards and Barrie Thompson


The M.Sc. in Computer-Based Information Systems is a ‘conversion’ course intended for graduates who have little or no knowledge of computing and are interested in gaining a theoretical and practical understanding of the construction of computer-based information systems. The course consists of two main elements: a taught element and an externally sponsored project. A major element within the taught part of the course is the Systems Engineering module. Within this module the students are encouraged to: critically examine current practices within the industry, comprehend those approaches that are that are expounded as being good software engineering practice, and gain an understanding of the social and ethical issues associated with all aspects of computer based systems. The course and the Systems Engineering module are outlined and the approach which has been adopted to ensure that social value issues are addressed within the course is described. It is also demonstrated that students gain a wider understanding of the ethical dimension associated with information technology. Finally a critical evaluation is given along with details of the changes that are to be implemented in the future.