Ethics in the UCL Curriculum
• Ethics learning outcomes covered in ‘context
– Professional issues
– Social context
– Sustainable development
• Royal Academy of Engineering Ethics Curriculum
• Ethics toolkit for UCL academics 2009
• Extended learning outcomes
• Integrating ethics in curriculum
– Tutorials, lectures, scenarios, new
• Resources for staff
– Case studies
– Codes of conduct
– Reading lists
Evaluation of ethics teaching and toolkit
1. Are engineering academics engaged in
2. Are engineering academics interested in
3. What is the best way to teach ethics in our
4. Is our toolkit effective?
• Independent research student
• Anonymous interviews with staff
• 13 of 36 responded so far
– In progress
• Qualitative analysis and coding
• What is ethics?
• Personal ethics
• Why teach ethics?
• How best to teach ethics?
…the engineering profession needs to sort of
stand up for non-financial values, you know,
on honesty, health and safety, fairness.
What is ethics?
• Social purpose of
• Environmental values
• Bribery and corruption
• Codes of conduct
• Big questions and everyday
• Career paths
• Military research
• Research partners
• Research ethics
• Few direct ethical
…it’s probably more reprehensible to send
out an engineer without ethical thinking than
it is without mathematical thinking.
Why teach ethics?
• Develop critical reasoning
• Good decision making
throughout a career
• Students bring an ethical
framework from their families
• Teaching ethics by example
• Teaching ethics is difficult
…what you need to do is make the staff
conscious of ethical issues. I think it’s more
important to make the staff aware so they can
then incorporate it in their teaching where
How to best teach ethics?
• Integrated rather than separate course
– Crowded curriculum
• Core curriculum, not only tutorials
• Lectures largely ineffective
– Case studies
– Personal examples
• Poor uptake of the toolkit
• Academics broadly understand engineering ethics
• Personal experience of ethics is framed in
• Teaching ethics is important but difficult
• Incorporate ethics into existing activities
• Engineering ethics toolkit has not been utilised