UofAComputing ScienceSemester 2010-1

Ethics in the Software Development Life-Cycle: A Case Study of Health Informatics Systems
(Independent Study)
Instructors: Osmar R. Zaïane (Computing Science) - Dick Sobsey (John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre)


In the information age, software systems permeate throughout society in various areas and disciplines. Making software is not a technical endeavor alone, but an ethical one because decisions made during development have the potential for affecting lives. This is even more important for safety-critical software used in healthcare systems.

This course will provide students with (1) an overview of ethical requirements for software engineers while developing software systems in general from three viewpoints: general ethics, professional ethics, and technical ethics, (2) an examination of ethics issues encountered in developing health informatics systems with emphasis on defining technical ethics, (3) relevance and application of ethics at different stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC) from analysis, design, development, deployment, through maintenance, (4) practical interpretation of existing software engineering codes of ethics for building and maintaining health informatics systems, and (5) distillation of ethical issues from user requirements gathering.

The course will consist of a series of discussions on the topics listed below from the perspectives of both health practitioners and software practitioners. In addition, recent relevant research papers will also be read/discussed, including existing software engineering and healthcare codes of ethics and conduct.


The course will cover the following topics:


Annotated Bibliography (20%),
Discussions (40%),
Final Term paper (40%).


A minimum of 10 research papers will be selected from a variety of journals, conference proceedings and other sources. Codes of ethics and professional conduct from relevant authorities in computer science, software engineering and healthcare will also be used.

The following initial reading list will be updated as the term progresses.

Presentation Slides

  1. Meeting - January 21st, 2010
  2. Meeting - January 28th, 2010
  3. Meeting - Februar 4th, 2010
  4. Meeting - Februar 11th, 2010
  5. Meeting - Februar 24th, 2010

Distributed: January, 2010