CS3SC17-Social, Legal and Ethical Aspects of Computing

Module Provider: School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded: SE3SL11 Social, Legal and Ethical Aspects of Science and Engineering and CS3SL16 Social, Legal and Ethical Aspects of Science and Engineering
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Pat Parslow

Email: p.parslow@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module provides students with a sound grounding in a range of social, legal, ethical and professional (SLEP) issues that might arise in their possible roles as working in technology related disciplines.


• To provide students with the basic SLEP background to develop their professional role in the workplace, beyond simply performing technical tasks assigned to them.

• To encourage students to consider the impacts that technologies they are developing and using could have on individuals, local, global and business communities as well as the wider world around them.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

• Understand the impact that new technologies have on individuals, businesses, communities and globally;

• Present compelling arguments about the social impact of new technological developments;

• Understand the legal and ethical implications of providing a service or product;

• Understand the legal and ethical issues of holding and using data.

Additional outcomes:

Be able to identify and discuss the ethical issues presented and rhetorical styles used in dialogue excerpts, with focus on explaining how language is used to alter other people's ethical perceptions and convince them of specific points.

Explore the use of social media and impacts of instantaneous global communication, bots and analysis of profiles and activity.

Outline content:

 Social impact of technological change addressing a range of topics such as: communications; medical technologies; bio-engineering; education; entertainment; military; industry, commerce and working practices; globalisation; public understanding of science; environmental impact of high technology;

• Legal and ethical implications of providing or using a service or product including: intellectual property rights; copyright; contractual issues (e.g. payment terms, service level agreements and maintenance commitments); licensing; inclusivity;

• Legal and ethical issues of holding and using data including: laws and regulations affecting this; data ownership and records management; governance processes and procedures;

• Memetics, Social Media, digital literacy and data mining.

Other relevant topical issues

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The social impact of technological change will be taught using interactive lectures, presenting a topic to the class and giving a starting point from which the students can give their own ideas and reasoned arguments. Encouragement will be given for students to continue these discussions outside lectures both in person and using online discussion tools such as Blackboard. 

Assignments (requiring self-directed research) will support the aims of the module, in the form of assessment for learning.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 70
Class test administered by School 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  • Online test on legal issues 15%

  • Online test on ethics 15%

  • Team work – comparative study of SLEP issues 30%

  • Academic paper 40%

Formative assessment methods:

All the assessments are both formative and summative.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Individual report

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 7 June 2018


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