Course Title: Practical Ethics for Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Practical Ethics for Development

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020

Course Coordinator: Dr Vandra Harris

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 2960

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

All professionals encounter ethical choices, challenges and dilemmas. The globalised nature of work means that some situations can seem confronting, particularly when working in developing countries, where questions of ethics and morality may be faced every day.

In this course you will explore the main ethical approaches, their history and what they mean in practice. You will explore ethics in the sense of ‘values in practice’ from an international development perspective. Through practical case studies, real and hypothetical scenarios from professional practice and shared experiences with your peers from other disciplines and institutional contexts, you will engage dynamically with a range of contexts where ethical decisions must be made.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

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

  • compare and contrast the key ethical approaches and their historical development;
  • critically analyse the practical impact of values and ethics for development professionals;
  • discern the impact of ethics and values on individuals’ decision-making and actions;
  • apply ethical frameworks to real-life situations and make informed decisions;
  • communicate, justify and apply ethical frameworks in your professional practice

You will be assessed on your development of the following program learning outcomes:

  • critically reflect on socio-cultural diversity and values, world systems and the benefits of local and global development practices for communities engaged in development processes
  • determine and apply the specialist knowledge and technical skills required to creatively solve problems, demonstrating expert judgment and ethical responsibility in your professional practice in international development
  • professionally communicate propositions, processes and outcomes relating to international development to address specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • provide leadership within your discipline as well as collaborate with others

Overview of Learning Activities

Primary learning activities may include lectures, guest lecturers, readings, independent research, activities and discussion in class and online, analysis of case studies and personal reflection. You may also experience a combination of class participation, class presentations, group work and debates in order to develop your skills in collaborative and participatory practice; critical understanding of the key ethical approaches and their development; understanding of the practical impact of values and ethics; and ability to prepare critical oral argument.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. Learning resources will include a set of readings for each component of the class, and may include a prescribed textbook. A range of additional resources and links will also be available through myRMIT, to enhance your learning.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes Assessment may include academic essays, reflective journals, practical case studies and class participation where you will develop your ethical and legal reasoning; critical analysis; cultural competence; understanding of the key ethical approaches and their development; application of ethical frameworks; discernment of the impact of ethics and values on individuals’ decision-making and action; and critical oral and written argument. Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

  • If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.
  • A student charter summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.
  • Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions which are available for review online: