Individual Ethics Essay

Since computer science and information technology affect more and more people today, professionals in these fields have a responsibility to consider various ethical issues related to their work. Thus, before graduation, every FYP/FYT student is required to do something to think about ethical issues. This includes writing a 600-word analytical essay to discuss one or two ethical issues that an engineer in the field of computer science or information technology may face in the workplace.

Ethics Essay Flowchart

How to Approach the Essay

  1. Identify 1 or 2 parts of your system or research to discuss in the essay.
    • Core components
    • Data
    • Models

  2. Chose 1 or 2 ethical issues to apply on the system part(s) you have identified. Look closely at your system architecture. Identify the system part(s) that you would like to analyse for ethics considerations.
    • Responsibility
    • Security
    • Privacy
    • System integrity
    • Transparency
    • Sustainability
    • Environmental considerations

  3. Choose one of two approaches:
    • Approach 1 - S-P-S-R (System based): System, Problem, Solution, Response
    • Write a brief on your FYP from two standpoints: (1) the application for end users and (2) the back-end.

      Relate one or more system parts to ethical issues and present the problem(s) and solution(s).

    • Approach 2 - Pick one contemporary ethics issue from outside sources
    • Provide an analysis of two key findings related to one issue from the outside source and apply them to your project as a problem and solutions.

  4. Outline and provide your system / project / research brief. Present the ethical issue(s) as problems and solutions in your essay.
    • Project Brief: Provide a brief of your project and identify the system parts. Zero-in on your chosen part/s which you will be studying from the "ethical" standpoint.
    • Two issues: Having considered two ethical issues, present them as problems and solutions.
      • Problems should be something that is within your control and not external un-provables to the system or tools, eg. case studies, tutorials, supervisors or government.
      • Solutions should be specific (not generalized), appropriate and targeted to datasets, OR system design, OR database design, OR models, OR particular issues to you, like code safety.
      • Your view to the solution is from the point of view of a developer.
    • The Ethics Essay should be a real, scientific document. A document that team-members or bosses can refer to and make decisions or take actions.
    • The ethical issues have to be directly related to your project: its system, data, model or database.
    • The Essay should be more than 600 words. 600 words is the minimum.
    • Premium is placed on: (1) content, (2) relevance (it should pertain to your system architecture / project), and (3) clarity (language and logic).
    • The key to getting a good grade is articulation of your two ethical issues and the expansion of your two solutions in a specific way.
    • Engagement with your solutions, showing how they work from a developer's view is also important

  5. Choose a suitable set of ethical codes (ACM, EU, HKIE, Open Source, UNESCO, or WFEO) that guide the behavior of professional engineers in Hong Kong.

  6. Use the official ETHICS ESSAY TEMPLATE.

Essay Organization


  • In the opening paragraph, be clear which of the two approaches you are using
  • Provide a little background information to show the importance of your topic.

Key Findings:

  • Include a brief summary of your system or project.
  • Identify what part of the system that you are working on or addressing.
  • Clearly state the ethical issue(s) that you are addressing.
  • Clearly state any vulnerabilities that need to be mitigated.
  • Clearly state the result of not addressing the ethical issue(s).
  • Clearly state which codes or rules would be breached if the ethical issue(s) are not addressed, using footnotes to quote the codes or rules.
  • Concisely state your solutions in an interesting way.


  • State the contemporary issue you have chosen from an outside source.
  • Provide a citation and reference to the source.
  • Analyse two key findings and apply these findings to your system / project.


  • Summarized your key findings: your ethical issue(s), any related vulnerabilities, two problems, and two solutions.

Writing the Essay Content

  • Clearly define what is your project about. For example, is it Location Sensing? NLP? Are you proving a model? A recommender? Are you building a Database? Cloud Storage?
  • Clearly identify the system part(s) where vulnerabilities lie and need to be mitigated. What are they? What should you prioritize? How do you mitigate the vulnerabilities?
  • Clearly state your solutions to your ethical considerations.
  • In a group project, each individual should try to focus on the system component that he/she is responsible for, if possible.
  • It is good to have an illustration/diagram as a starting point for yourself. But do not include your diagram in the essay.
  • Clearly address the ethical questions that need to be considered when building your system / component / model.
  • Use footnotes to quote specific codes or rules from your chosen code of ethics (ACM, EU, HKIE, Open Source, UNESCO, or WFEO). Do not quote these in the body of the essay.

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