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..., "Social, Professional, and Ethical Aspects of Information Technology" or "The Course With The Longest Title" has been in the IT College curricula since the second year of the College (2001, the Estonian version; the current English one was added in 2015 for the then-new Cyber Security Engineering curriculum), and it has gone on to the university era. Being a first year, introductory course, it is a mixture of various topics like IT culture and professionalism, tech history, legal issues and more - the point is to raise awareness of different not-so-technical dimensions surrounding IT. A secondary goal is to provide students with skills in academic writing, reviewing, presentation and public speaking, being the first training towards the future thesis.

Earlier, the whole course was taught by Kaido Kikkas - during the 2022/2023 academic year, Kristjan Karmo came along. Since Autumn 2023, lectures are held by Kaido and seminars are chaired by Kristjan (who will also grade the course).

In Short

  • Course code: ICS0006 (also as ICY0004 in Estonian versions and formerly ICM0001 in the IS Analysis M.Sc. programme)
  • Volume: 6.0 ECTS
  • Classes: weekly lecture (given by Kaido on Tuesdays at 10.15 to 11.45 in ICO-221, starting on Sept 5) and weekly seminars (led by Kristjan, during the 2nd half-term starting on October 30 - on Wednesdays for IVSB12 (Group 2) and on Thursdays for IVSB11 (Group 1). Seminars will take place at 08.15 to 09.45 in ICO-410)
  • Homework: 1 or 2 three-part (paper, slides, presentation) homework sets, reviews, optional blogging
  • Grading: exam (but the bulk of the work is done during the term)
  • Staff: Kaido Kikkas (lectures; see the bottom of the page) and Kristjan Karmo (seminars)

Data Tables

Note: these will be published when the seminars start - to provide quick overview of the standings and schedules.

Course Organization

Every student is expected to do at least one (another one is optional) set of homework consisting of a 5-10 page essay, a set of ~10 slides and an oral presentation. Thus, the lab sessions will mostly be seminars with people presenting their work with subsequent discussion.

Points to consider:

  • In earlier years, there was a constant problem with attending the seminars towards the end of the term. Now we use the attendance check at seminars (but not lectures) - everyone is supposed to pass by Kristjan sometime during the seminar (typically, in the beginning right after arrival, but it is also possible to do it at the end, before leaving), show some kind of ID (the student card is fine) and get him/herself marked as present. Attending at least 5 seminars out of 8 is required to pass the course.
  • Everyone should pick a suitable time for the first presentation and register it with Kristjan (in person or via e-mail) by the beginning of Week 7 - October 16 (second presentation can be set later - but it is 'first come, first served'). It is recommended to do the first presentation as soon as possible (other courses will start adding workload at the end of the semester!).
  • Due to some negative experience with people missing their presentation without notice (e.g. five people were registered, two actually presented - half the seminar time got wasted), there is a rule: if you do not present your work at the registered time without a valid reason (e.g. illness, being abroad etc), there will be no second chance during the term. People with valid reasons will get a new chance, but please try to inform Kristjan ASAP!
  • The paper should be sent in BEFORE the presentation (submitting on the same day after presenting will be accepted if necessary - but earlier is better). In case of the submission being late, the following penalty system applies: up to one week late - minus 10%, 1-2 weeks - minus 30%, 2-3 weeks - minus 50%, more than 3 weeks - no points.
  • In order to present the second homework, the first one must be done in full (all three components) - although you may register the second time before doing the first, be sure to actually present the first one!
  • Papers may be written either as standalone documents (PDF is the most universal option) or to the IT College wiki. Wiki-based works share the same requirements, the only exception being no need for a dedicated title page (and be sure to meet the necessary volume - it is harder to track on wiki!).

Papers should have a clear topic, good presentation of the problem, proper argumentation and formal qualities (academic style, proper references etc). You can use the official formatting guidelines of the university.

NB!!! The final deadline for all other writings (including reviews, blogs etc) is the last day of the term proper, or Friday December 22 (extensions can be granted for compelling reasons (illness etc).

WARNING - write your papers by yourself. Presenting a paper downloaded from somewhere is more serious an academic offense than someone fresh out of secondary school may think - flunking just the course is a luckier result, but people may also get booted from the school for proven plagiarism. This also applies for partial "borrowing" - rules dictate that all used material be properly referenced (see also here).

The above also applies to the modern practice of using AI to write the paper. Why this is not a good idea:

  • The obvious: you will not learn much (other than setting up the tool - this may be a useful skill by itself, but will not compensate other losses).
  • You will have to present the paper. There is a visible difference between self-researched presentation and one prepared by someone/something else.
  • Sometime later, you will have to write and present your thesis. Ghostwriting denies you a good preparatory exercise provided by this course.
  • Someday quite soon, AI will kick lazy and unoriginal people out of the labour market. Try not to be one of those.
  • Additionally, OpenAI has recently been reported as getting stupider by several sources. If you decide to use it, you will be also responsible for those... creative errors. :P

(Note about a silver lining of the AI issue: it is a valuable addition to the course as a paper/presentation/discussion material!)

Presentation slides should bring out the important, be suitably detailed, well-designed and properly formatted. See a guide here.

Oral presentation should present the material clearly, have good argumentation and answers to possible questions, somewhat also considering confidence, style and handling the audience. Be prepared to answer at least some questions (if the audience will not ask, the lecturer will!)

Reviews should address the topic, argumentation and formal side, see also some guidelines here.

The first (mandatory) paper gives up to 25 points, slides up to 10 and oral presentation up to 15 points, for the second homework the same numbers are 20, 5 and 10. Reviewing a peer's homework gives up to 10 points.

Another way to earn points is to write a blog related to the course topics (both using an existing blog or creating a new one are OK). You may reflect on the course (ideas, suggestions and also constructive criticism are all OK), College events (but again, related to the course topics), tech news, write software or hardware reviews etc. The blog should be in English, the rule of thumb in points is "one point for each relevant post", up to 10 points (note that you are free to use the blog for other kinds of posts as well, but the course points will be only awarded for the ones that relate to the course) . Blogging is not mandatory for this version of the course.

It is also possible to earn points by reading and reviewing relevant books - up to 2 in total, for up to 5 points per book. Books can be picked from a reading list here, but you may choose something else, too. The length of a book review should be approximately one page, containing both a short overview (title, author, time of publishing), main points and the argumented evaluation by the reviewer.

Finally, the lecturers can award bonus points for original solutions, active participation in discussions etc (typically 1-3 at once, up to 10 points in total per student), this typically happens during seminars.

The grade system is typical to most of Estonian higher education:

   50 and less: 0
   51 - 60: 1
   61 - 70: 2
   71 - 80: 3
   81 - 90: 4
   91 and more: 5

The exam can add up to 40 points.

Thus, passing the course by just doing the exam is not possible - and anyone ignoring the wide choice of point-earning possibilities (described above) is probably... not that bright.


The exam dates will be announced here as they become known.

The default form of the exam is writing an approx. 2-page essay on one of three topics assigned randomly, in about 1.5 hours, open book (all written sources permitted, but no internal communication). It somewhat simulates the situation of your boss dropping in and saying "We need an opinion piece on X in two hours, do it!" - the point is to promote quick thinking and analytical skills (rather than proper research of the homework papers).

Note: Kristjan can suggest alternative ways of passing the exam if applicable.

The exam result will be ADDED to the total, so it cannot have any bad effect on your result. Example: Mr B. comes to the exam with 57 points earned before, chooses the express and does not do well - he only answers one question correctly, earning 4 points for the exam. His final result, however, is 57 + 4 = 61, meaning "satisfactory" (2).

Lecture notes

...have a separate page.