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CMSC 304 Syllabus

CMSC 304 Syllabus

Social and Ethical Issues in Information Technology


ENGL 100 and (CMSC 202, CMSC 202H, or CMSC 210) with the grade of ‘C’ or better.

Writing Intensive Designation


A survey course that reviews social issues and the ethical impact of information technology throughout the world. The course examines the policy issues that relate to the use of information technology, such as persona, privacy, rights of access, security, transborder information flow and confidentiality.

Course Outcomes

Each student will:

  • Define ethical reasoning as it relates to computer science, and apply ethical principles to the profession of computer science.
  • Understand the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and/or IEEE Code of Ethics and how it relates to theoretical ethical principles and professional and social responsibilities.
  • Analyze case studies using the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and/or IEEE Code of Ethics, ethical principles, and moral reasoning.
  • Be able to identify and differentiate between ethical, social, and legal issues.
  • Interpret the impacts of a computer science related issue (contexts: global, economic, environmental, social, legal, and/or ethical).
  • Use written and oral communication to present the results of an ethical analysis or case study analysis in a well-structured paper and presentation.
  • Write, at a minimum, 3000-3750 words (12-15 standard pages) of graded finished written assignments.


Student Outcomes

  Level Of Emphasis
ABET Outcome Low Medium High
Analyze a complex computing problem and to apply principles of computing and other relevant disciplines to identify solutions. X    


Design, implement, and evaluate a computing-based solution to meet a given set of computing requirements in the context of the program’s discipline. X


Communicate effectively in a variety of professional contexts.     X


Recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles.     X



Function effectively as a member or leader of a team engaged in activities appropriate to the program’s discipline.   X


Apply computer science theory and software development fundamentals to produce computing-based solutions. X




Baase. Sara. (2017). A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues for Computing and the Internet.
5th edition
. Pearson. ISBN: 9780134615271.


Reynolds, G. (2016). Ethics in Information Technology. 5th Edition. Cengage Technology. ISBN – 9781285197159

Spinello. R. (2020). CyberEthics: Morality and Law in Cyberspace. 7th Edition. Jones & Bartlett. 2020. ISBN: 1284184064.

The course may also use other handouts and articles on relevant subjects.


  • Ethics and critical reasoning in computer science
  • Methods for case analysis
  • Introduction to ethical theories and principles
  • Privacy, personal information, and trust
  • Security and encryption
  • Content control and censorship
  • Intellectual property and licensing
  • Computer crime
  • Professional issues and decision-making
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Professional codes of ethics (ACM and IEEE)


The course grade is based on the following work:

20% Exam
15% each Ethical Analyses and/or case studies
30% Term paper and presentation
20% Attendance and Participation

Last updated June 19, 2023 by JD and JK