Skip to main content
Unit outline_

SSPS6004: Social Research Ethics

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

This unit introduces students to key issues, debates and ethical questions in human research, enabling them to acquire knowledge and develop skills for research degrees and funding applications. It examines values and principles of research ethics, and encourages students to reflect on these in relation to research with human subjects. The unit offers practical support to higher degree research students developing, or planning to develop, a human research ethics application.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit
Credit points 6
SCLG6902 or SCLG3003
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Fiona Gill,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Principles of Ethics Assignment
Details on CANVAS
30% Week 06
Due date: 12 Apr 2021 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5
Assignment Informed consent, coercion and participants
Details on CANVAS
35% Week 10
Due date: 10 May 2021 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Ethics reflection/ justifying your research
Details on CANVAS
35% Week 13
Due date: 06 Jun 2021 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Assessment summary

Assessments in this unit are designed to allow students to adapt their learning to whatever is most useful.  Thus two assessment streams are offered.  One, more theoretical, allows students to engage with ethical issues relevant to their research in a more abstract, theoretical way.  The other encourages students to think aboutethics in an applied and practical way and is designed around the questions students will need to answer on their HREC ethics application.

Principles of Ethics Assignment: 2000 words (30%).  Due 12/4/21

Informed consent, coercion and participants: 2000 words (35%).  Due 10/5/21

Ethics reflection/ justifying your research: 2000 words (35%).  Due 6/6/21

Assessment criteria

Details available on CANVAS

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

As per faculty policy.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes

Attendance and class requirements

Students are advised to familiarise themselves with the Attendance Policy:

Attendance requires, not only turning up in seminars, but also actively participating.  Failure to participate may result in students being marked absent.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Prescribed readings will be available on the CANVAS site.  An additional brief lecture and other media materials will also be available for students to review prior to attendance at the seminar. 

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key issues, debates and ethical issues in human research.
  • LO2. understand the values and principals of ethical conduct and the ethical considerations specific to research methods or fields.
  • LO3. think reflexively about the specific ethical implications to participants and identify ethical matters relating to specific categories of research participants/relevant stakeholders.
  • LO4. demonstrate the ability to work both independently and collaboratively with regard to understanding research governance and responsibilities in monitoring and reviewing human research.
  • LO5. communicate complex ethical issues and demonstrate the written skills required to successfully write a research proposal.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This is the first time this unit has been offered.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.