Legal, social, ethical & professional issues (LSEPI)

Legal, social, ethical & professional issues (LSEPI)

by Academy Admin

Legal, social, ethical and professional issues are an important part of offering a rounded curriculum. Below are examples from accredited institutions that demonstrate how they can be successfully integrated in degree programmes. 

The coverage of Legal, Social, Ethical and Professional issues for the undergraduate programme suite, this also included the coverage of LSEPIs in Dubai where students covered the same materials as in the UK but additionally had LSEPIs contextualised to the UAE environment – Heriot-Watt University 2015

The Department of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University teaches Legal, Social, Ethical and Professional Issues (LSEPI) through the use of dedicated courses: (Praxis and Professional Development for UG, Research Methods for PG) supported by integration of such issues in other courses across the curriculum, the former covering general topics such as personal development planning, writing reports to professional standards, co-operating in groups, influence between technological and societal trends, and remedies to abuse of computer technology, and the latter delving into specific topics such as the legal and ethical responsibilities in the development of Interactive Systems. This combination facilitates both breadth and depth in the coverage of LSEP issues. 

With campuses in the UK and Dubai, the Department also makes sure that LSEP issues are covered context-appropriate. For example, students in Edinburgh will learn about the UK computer misuse act, whereas these topics are covered more generally in Dubai. Also, generally, the learning environment provided for our students respects the different religious and cultural life in Dubai compared to the Western world.

The introduction of a 10 credit core Professional Computing (06-25345) module at Level 5 – University of Birmingham 2013

The introduction of a 10 credit core Professional Computing (06-25345) module at Level 5 (2nd year) which introduces students to ethical, social, legal and professional issues in computing in combination with report writing skills. Student participation is an important component of the module, both in researching and presenting material. Some lectures are given by external speakers with appropriate professional experience.

The module is based around 11 one hour lectures plus student presentations. The main topics covered are: Introduction (What does "professional" mean?); Legal Perspectives (English Law, Legislation, Computer Misuse Act); Data Protection Act & Freedom of Information Act  (Data Protection, RIPA, Freedom of Information); Intellectual Property (Copyright, Patents, Trademarks, Confidential Information); Effective Presentations (assessment criteria, tips for presenting); Contracts and Liability (Contracts, Consultancy, Liability); Technical C.V.'s  (C.V.'s, What employers look for, Some dos and don'ts) (presented by the Careers Service); The Internet (Responsibilities of ISPs, National Boundaries, Pornography, Defamation, Spam; Human Resources (Recruitment & Selection, Unfair Dismissal, Redundancy, Anti-discrimination); and Ethics (Ethical Philosophy, Value Ethics, Utilitarianism, Duty and Rights). In addition, students are taught to use Subversion and LaTeX to prepare reports and collaborate with fellow students.

The module is supported by the use of Peerwise (a system whereby students can create a question/answer database around the syllabus) and an externally hosted blog which collects current news and opinion pieces relevant to the module. 

Students are assessed by 50% Coursework (consisting of a position paper on a legal, social or ethical topic in IT (20%), Curriculum Vitae (15%), Group presentation (15%) and active use of Peerwise (5%)) and 50% Exam (consisting of a series of short answer questions about social, legal, ethical aspects of IT). 

The official module description is available at:  

In addition, the module is supported by a webpage containing a more detailed syllabus, handouts and lecture notes at:

LSEPI is identified as an area of best practice as it’s at the heart of the provision with a backbone structure in specific modules but also embedded within other modules – Robert Gordon University 2013

At both undergraduate and postgraduate level we have designed our courses with a ‘backbone’ of modules to address LSEPI topics. These modules are designed to engage the students in thinking about their own professional practice (rather than learning laws, etc., in isolation as is often the case). These modules involve local practitioners, develop key skills and utilise a series of student centred activities, culminating in the final project. One example is students acting as consultants to give advice to simulated organisations on their LSEPI issue (based on a contemporary problem such as cloud services and bring your own device). Other specialist modules then pick up specific laws, regulations, etc., in context. (E.g. ethics of data mining, equality legislation in HCI, governance and ITIL methods in management).