PENG9100 Engineering Science and Ethics Course description

Course name in Norwegian
Engineering Science and Ethics
Study programme
PhD Programme in Engineering Science
Year of study
Programme description
Course history


The goal of this course is to help students reflect over ethical dilemmas so that they make sound ethical choices throughout their doctoral studies and future careers. This course gives the students insight via relevant example projects from the spectrum of disciplines within engineering science including mathematics, physics, computer science, eletrical engineering, built engineerng and product design. Students will reflect on key philosophical questions related the explicit and implicit premises within their field as they relate to epistemology, methodology, ethics and history. The examples will expose the students to the full complexity of engineering projects, where ethical dilemmas and sustainability issues form the planning and execution of the project as well as the final product.

The course will be offered once a year, provided 3 or more students sign up for the course. If less than 3 students sign up for a course, the course will be cancelled for that year.


Recommended preliminary courses

Admission requirements.

Required preliminary courses


Learning outcomes


On successful completion of the course, the student:

  • can account for the terminology and models related to ethics in engineering science

  • has thorough knowledge of the requirements and standards for registration, processing, and storage of information about of participants in scientific research

  • has a deep understanding of the role of scientific, societal and ethical values on their research.


On successful completion of the course, the student can:

  • present arguments and viewpoints relevant to ethical dilemmas prevalent in engineering science

  • analyse and assess arguments relevant to ethics in engineering science in relation to their relevance and validity

  • argue for solutions to ethical problems using theories and techniques relevant to engineering science

  • deal with complex professional issues with an academic approach and reflect critically on established knowledge and practice in his/her own field in relation to sustainability, ethics and to other engineering disciplines

  • reflect deeply on the nature of their research and its contribution to the production of knowledge

General competence:

On successful completion of the course, the student can:

  • identify, discuss and reflect upon ethical and societal implications of his/her own research as well as of the applications they enable,

  • reflect over values and ethical boundaries within engineering science


The course will consist of six gatherings. Each gathering will contain a mixture of resource lectures on ethical theory, guest lecturers with examples of real-world engineering projects from several areas of engineering, and student presentation of relevant academic papers and cases. Each presentation will be followed by in-class discussions.

Teaching and learning methods

Module 1 will take the form of lectures. Module 2 will take the form of seminars.

Practical training

The student will write a 4-5 page reflection document on ethical and sustainability issues related to their doctoral thesis or the research project to which he/she is assigned. This document should be self-contained, and should form a basis for inclusion as a section on ethical reflection in the student's final doctoral thesis. The students will also present a case study to the other students at the course.

Course requirements

The following required coursework must be approved before the student can take the exam:

The student must write four reflection notes each of maximum 1500 words on topics that will be announced during the course. Each student must also present two papers in class, one on a paper related to the eithics in their own project and one paper from the general reading list.

Attendance is compulsory with a minimum requirement of 80%.

All work requirements need to be approved in order to pass the course.


Both the presentation of the case in Module 2 of the course and the reflection document in the practical training part of the course will form the basis for assessment.

Both exams must be passed in order to pass the course.

Permitted exam materials and equipment

All support material is allowed. The reflection document as well as the presentation of a case in Module 2 will be subject of assessment. There will be no written or oral exam.

Grading scale

Pass or fail.


The presentation will be assessed by the course leader, whereas the reflection document will be assessed by the course leader together with an additional examiner. External examiner is used periodically.