Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit introduces and teaches students to apply vital critical thinking skills, with a particular focus upon ethical issues connected to advancements in technology (e.g. artificial intelligence). The early weeks will focus upon skills in critical thinking and written expression. Subsequent weeks will provide a general introduction to ethical theory (accounts of what makes an action or policy right or wrong), followed by consideration of a wide range of complex applied cases. In the near future, for example, autonomous vehicles will be routinely confronted with the need to make life-or-death decisions. What values should we ‘programme in' to such machines for such cases, and how should we decide? Is it possible for a machine to reason morally? How should we manage the risks inherent in the development of new technology? Could the use of artificial intelligence in legal decision-making be justified? The unit will also focus upon issues in professional ethics. We shall discuss the Australian Computer Society's Code of Professional Conduct, and consider a wide range of complex ethical issues that may arise in IT settings. Teaching in this unit will be highly interactive, and focuses upon the development of students' skills in written and oral communication and argumentation.

6 points
AvailabilityLocationModeFirst year of offer
Not available in 2024

Students are able to (1) apply the methods of logic, critical thinking and ethical reasoning and analysis to both abstract and practical problems while making use of appropriate research methods; (2) apply skills in oral and written communication appropriate to a range of different audiences and in a variety of different forms; (3) describe fundamental ethical notions (including stakeholders, responsibility, harm, benefit, rights, virtues, duty, respect and consequences) and evaluate influential theories of ethics as they apply to problems arising out of the development of digital technologies; (4) deploy analytical and communication skills necessary to facilitate a transition to professional practice in information technology roles; (5) explain the Australian Computer Society Code of Professional Conduct, and associated bodies and practices (e.g. whistleblower protections), and apply the relevant rules and principles appropriately; and (6) analyse issues in general professional ethics (e.g. conflicts of interest) and issues in professional ethics particular to IT settings (e.g. the digital divide, surveillance and invasions of privacy).


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) in-class assessment; (2) writing task; and (3) presentation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Assistant Professor Michael Rubin
Unit rules
Enrolment in
62510 Master of Information Technology
Contact hours
3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.