Ethics and Engineering (MSc level)

Doing ethics of technology requires the academic discipline of an Immanuel Kant, the political commitment of a Nelson Mandela, and the openness to learn from others of a Socrates.

Filippo Santoni de Sio

After having completed the course you:
• can better recognise and analyse ethical and social aspects and problems inherent in technology and in the work of professionals and managers active in the design, development, management and control of technology.
• have insight into how these ethical and social aspects and problems are related to legal, political and organisational backgrounds.
• are able to explore and assess possibilities for solving or diminishing existing and emerging ethical and social problems that attach to technology and the work of professionals and managers.
• are better prepared to perform your future work as a professional or manager in the design, development, production and control of technology in an ethical and socially responsible way.

The course consists of a series of 6 lectures and 6 working groups (or "tutorials"). Attendance of lectures is not compulsory but strongly recommended (the content of the lectures is part of the written exam). Attendance to all tutorials is compulsory and required to sit the exam.


Each student has to (co-) chair one hour of a working group.  Your working group instructor will assign chairs who are responsible for preparing and moderating 45 minutes of the work group. 

Students are encouraged to be creative about working group chairing, and are thus not required to stick to the model offered by the instructor; see also the document ‘Models for discussion’ posted in the course documents.  

The assignment is that you have to build an exercise around the course materials of that week/hour. You are expected to design a working group with the aim to critically engage with the material. This can be done by a creative ‘application’ of the materials of that week/hour. You are free to choose the working method for this. You can think, for example but not only, of the following possibilities:

  • Look up a case, for example in the newspaper, which illustrates the reader materials. Briefly present the case and prepare a structured discussion on it, in which relevant ethical concepts are used.
  • Set up a court case on a relevant issue with people defending a certain position and others arguing against it and judges who reach the final verdict.
  • Set up a role play like the Challenger game of the first week
  • More suggestions are in the document ‘Models for discussion’ posted in the course documents.