CISC 497: Social, Ethical and
Legal Issues in Computing
Fall 2015

Last Updated: October 26, 2015

Professor: Janice Glasgow
janice [at]

Teaching Assistant: Andrew Dickinson
andrew [at]
Goodwin 736

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Course Description

A wide range of topics of current importance in computing, including technical issues, professional questions, and moral and ethical decisions. Students make presentations, deliver papers, and engage in discussion.


Ethics for the Information Age by Michael J. Quinn (6th Edition)
(permalink to the Campus Bookstore)

Class Times

Day Time Room
Tuesday 9:30 - 10:30 DUP 217
Thursday 8:30 - 9:30 DUP 217
Friday 10:30 - 11:30 DUP 217

Class Schedule

Week 1
  • Read chapters 1 and 2
  • Tuesday: Introduction
  • Thursday: Mandatory Writing Tutorial with Andrew
  • Friday: Ethic presentation Group 1 & 2
  • Group biographies
Week 2
  • Ethic presentations
    • Tuesday: Group 3 & 4
    • Thursday: Group 5 & 6
  • Friday: Biomedical Ethics Presentation from Dr. Randy Ellis
Week 3
Week 4
  • Paper 1 returned with comments (if previously submitted)
  • Debate
    • Each group will present a debate on an issue related to social, ethical and/or legal issues on computing the team will break into three subgroups:
      • 2-3 presenting the thesis (pro) of the debate
      • 2-3 presenting the anti-thesis (con) of the debate
      • 1-2 student presenting the synthesis of the debate
    • Each side will have a maximum of 10 minutes to present their position
    • Each side will have a maximum of 5 minutes to rebut/counter the other sides position
    • There will be 5 minutes to present the synthesis of the debate
    • The remaining time will be for discussion questions
  • Tuesday
    • Group 1 debate
    • Andrew Office Hours for 2 hours post-class. GOO 736
  • Thursday
    • ACM code of ethics (cont.)
    • Andrew Office Hours for 2 hours post-class. GOO 736
  • Friday
    • ACM code of ethics (cont.)
Week 5
  • Paper 1 final copy due
  • Read chapter 5
  • Tuesday
    • Group 1 debate
  • Thursday
    • Group 2 debate
  • Friday
    • Group 4 debate
Week 6
  • Paper 1 returned
  • Read Chapter 6
  • Tuesday
    • Group 3 debate
  • Thursday
    • Group 5 debate
  • Friday
    • Topic for final group project/paper due
    • Presentation on Privacy from Dr. David Skillicorn (Computing)
Week 7
  • Tuesday
    • Read chapter 7
    • Group 6 debate
  • Thursday
    • Group 7 debate
  • Friday
    • Group 8 debate
Week 8
  • Paper 2 due for feedback (optional)
  • Tuesday
    • TBD
  • Thursday
    • TBD
  • Friday
    • Group meeting to discuss final presentation/report
    • Final presentations are expected to be formal, including all members of the group.
Week 9
  • Paper 2 returned with feedback
  • Read Chapter 9
  • Tuesday
  • Thursday
    • Debate: TBD
      • Pro - TBD
      • Con - TBD
    • Andrew Office Hours for 2 hours post-class. GOO 736
  • Friday
    • Presentation: "Commercialization and IP Issues in Computing", Stephen Scribner, PARTEQ Innovations
    • Andrew Office Hours for 2 hours post-class. GOO 736
Week 10
  • Tuesday
    • Paper 2 Due
    • Group 1 presentation
  • Thursday
    • Group 2 presentation
  • Friday
    • Wendy Craig (Psychology) presentation on Cyber Bullying
Week 11
  • Tuesday
    • Paper 2 Returned
    • Group 3 presentation
  • Thursday
    • Group 4 presentation
  • Friday
    • Group 5 presentation
Week 12
  • Tuesday
    • Group 6 presentation
  • Thursday
    • Group 7 presentation
  • Friday
    • Friday Group 8 presentation
    • Final reports due

Marking Scheme

Paper Requirements for CISC 497

Each student is required to write two research papers, each worth 20% for your final mark.

Each paper is required to be 500-700 words (roughly 2-3 pages double-spaced), not including references.

The first paper will be returned to you with comments and no mark, should you wish to take advantage of a free round of feedback. You will be given a week to revise the paper and hand it in once again. It will then be marked, but no comments given.

At least 3 non-US research sources are required for each paper. All citations, formatting, and layout must be in accordance with APA 6th Edition guidelines. Short papers do not require a title page (to save on printing), but the final paper does.

The papers can address any social, ethical or legal issue related to computing. Examples of topics used previously can be retrieved here.

The paper should be presented using dialectic reasoning, a method that begins with a thesis (establishes a stance, or point of view, supported with evidence), develops an antithesis (refutes the stance taken in the thesis, while also providing sound evidence), then combines both of these to resolve them into a coherent synthesis, with the ultimate goal being the search for truth.

Further details about this kind of paper structure, including a skeleton-outline of an example paper regarding meat-eating, can be found here.

Here is an example of a well-written paper.

Here is a list of the commmon mistakes made in past years that expands on the key attached to each assignment.

Also, here is a list of some "DO"s and "DON'T"s to help strengthen your paper.

Paper Deadlines

Paper 1:

Paper 2:

Late Paper Policy

As long as the paper is given to Dr. Glasgow during the scheduled class time, it will be considered on-time. Once that class has formally ended, the paper will be deemed late and will face different mark deductions based on time:

Should extenuating circumstances arise, you are to contact Andrew or Dr. Glasgow as soon as possible to determine the appropriate resolution.

Queen's Writing Centre

As a part of the Queen's Learning Commons, the Writing Centre works with writers of all skill levels and at any part of the writing process to provide help and feedback. You are entitled to six Writing Centre sessions per academic year (though you can only use one per week). If you're thinking this may help, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the service. Though they say themselves that they are not a substitute for interaction with the TA, they are available to give additional help.

In-class Presentations

In weeks 9-12, each group will present, analyze and discuss a case study that they have researched. Each group will be in charge of an entire 50 minute class. Each group will prepare a paper on their case study (1000 - 1500 words).

The case study chosen must be fairly current (within last five years) and must have to do with on or more important social, ethical or legal issues in computing.

The group must let the instructor know by the end of week 6 the topic you have chosen for your study.

All students are required to attend, listen to and evaluate all of the presentations.

Here is a breakdown of the marking scheme for the Final Presentations.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. These values are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University (see the Senate Report on Principles and Priorities)

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity and for ensuring that their assignments conform to the principles of academic integrity. Information on academic integrity is available in the Arts and Science Calendar (see Academic Regulation 1), on the Arts and Science website, and from the instructor of this course.

Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university. Please ensure you are familiar with the following: