Software Engineering BSc/MSci

Professional Skills and Issues (H) COMPSCI4038

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Computing Science
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course introduces the social, ethical, legal, and professional issues involved in the widespread deployment of information technology. It stimulates students to develop their own, well-argued positions on many of these issues.


2 hours per week for 10 weeks.

Excluded Courses





Written exam 40%, written assignment including essay 40%, Oral assessment and presentation 20%.

■ Group poster/presentation [ILOs 1, 3, 4].

■ Essay (with peer reviews) [ILOs 1, 3, 4, 5].

■ Examination [ILOs 1, 2].

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 


■ The group poster/presentation cannot be redone because it is prepared and delivered by a team of students.

■ The essay can be redone by non Honours students, but the peer reviews cannot because they involve other students.

■ The examination can be redone by non Honours students.

Course Aims

Graduates in Computing Science, Software Engineering, and related disciplines need to understand the social, ethical, legal, and professional as well as technical issues inherent in the widespread deployment of information technology (IT). They need to develop the ability to ask serious questions about the social impact of IT and to evaluate proposed answers to those questions.  They need to know the laws and professional codes of conduct relevant to the IT industry (e.g., intellectual property, privacy, freedom of information, computer and Internet misuse, and professional responsibilities).

This course aims to:

stimulate thinking about the social and ethical implications of the widespread and sustainable use of IT;

develop students' awareness of the laws and professional codes of conduct governing the IT industry;

expose students to IT industry working practices, including the need for continuing professional development;

develop information gathering skills;

encourage students to adopt principled, reasoned stances on important issues in the topic area;

develop students' verbal and written argumentation skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

1. Identify the principal social, ethical, legal, and professional issues in information technology (IT);

2. Explain the laws and codes of conduct relevant to the IT industry, and relate them to examples of IT in practice;

3. Use analytical tools to break down complex ethical issues in IT;

4. Develop and present arguments on social, ethical, legal, and professional issues in IT;

5. Constructively criticise the arguments of others.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.