Course Title: Ethics and Legal Studies

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Ethics and Legal Studies

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: Professor John Buckeridge

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2009

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 10.11.12

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

The course comprises of two integrated themes: Ethics and Legal studies.

The Ethics unit will introduce the moral framework(s) upon which ethical decision making is based; this will include a close assessment of the engineering code of ethics; you will be encouraged to recognise and reconsider your assumptions and attitudes relating to assessment and performance of relevant engineering systems. Different perspectives arising from case studies of failure systems, resulting investigations and outcomes will be analyzed considering the duty of care of an Engineer. You will be introduced to ethics in reporting deficiencies in proposals and this will include discussion on “whistleblowing”; consideration will also be given to intellectual theft, including plagiarism.

The legal unit will introduce students to matters such as built environment and liability, understanding the legal implications associated with structural safety assessment, confidential reporting mechanisms of structural failures benefitting industry practice, investigation and arbitration - an application of the implications of infringement of the law.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the development of the following Program Learning Outcomes.

  • Conduct professional practice with personal autonomy and accountability
  • Preparing for ongoing professional development in becoming a leader in the field of structural forensics engineering.

On successful completion of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the need for a functioning within an ethical framework as an engineering professional.
  2. Define and explain the meaning of relevant terms and concepts.
  3. Evaluate issues associated with engineering failures from various ethical perspectives and on the basis of this, recommend appropriate action(s).
  4. Identify the process of law and the different types of law
  5. Critically examine arguments for and against a particular incident of structural failure.
  6. Present orally and in document form a preferred position based on substantiated reasoning and evidence.

Overview of Learning Activities

A modular blended learning model comprising intensive lecture/workshop sessions, on-line fora and team-based activities will be employed in the course.
Students will utilise case studies of structural failure and to analyse the ethical and legal implications associated with these incidents.
On-line forums will be established to share information and active participation of all students, ensuring that peer-learning enhances cognitive development.

Overview of Learning Resources

Learning resources required will include the widely acknowledged texts and relevant articles of structural failure case studies.

Overview of Assessment

A detail project reports and presentations covering learning outcomes 1-6 involving both modules.