CS 105 Computer Ethics and Society

Spring 2017, 1 Credit - George Mason University

This is a 10-week course and the final exam will be in class on the 11th week.
(The 10 weeks of class do not count the week of spring break).





Class Dates

Final Exam



10:30-11:45 am

ENGR 1110

1/27 - 4/7




12:00-1:15 pm

ENGR 1110

1/27 - 4/7


Instructor: Prof. Tamara Maddox   Email: tmaddox@gmu.edu   Phone: (703) 993-1525
Office hours (ENGR 5347): Tues. 3-4 p.m., Thurs. 12-1 p.m., and immediately before or after class in our classroom.

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant:  Hamza Mughal    Email: hmughal2@gmu.edu

We strongly encourage you to contact the instructor or UTA if you have questions or are experiencing difficulty with the course.  We are here to help you learn.

 For all e-mail communications, include the course and section number in your e-mail subject line to avoid being flagged as trash.  For example:
    Subject: CS 105 Section 003 / Question about Kantianism


Course Description
Legal, social, and ethical issues surrounding use of computers and the internet. The course will stress ethical decision-making as well as legal and social responsibility in connection with technology-related concerns. Issues such as security, crime, privacy and intellectual property will be examined in the context of computer use. Students may be requested to conduct research on the internet in any of these areas and/or learn to use practical technological tools related to privacy and security.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will understand many of the key ethical, legal and social issues related to information technology and how to interpret and comply with ethical principles, laws, regulations and institutional policies.  
  2. Students will understand the essential issues related to information security, how to take precautions and use techniques and tools to defend against computer crimes.

Prerequisites: None

General Education:
This course has been approved to satisfy the GMU General Education requirement for one credit of IT Ethics.

Special Accommodations: Students with disabilities who need academic accommodations must work through the Office of Disability Services at (703) 993-2474.

Course Work
This is a discussion-based course. You are expected to attend all course meetings and participate in conversations about course material as well as in-class activities relevant to the course. To facilitate this, assigned readings are to be done before class.

There are two major writing assignments to be done outside of class, which comprise a substantial portion of the overall grade. Additional work such as outside research, group presentations, or contributing to discussion board topics may be assigned.

This class relies strongly on class participation.  Therefore, it is important that you attend class on a regular basis.  While you are welcome to attend an alternate lecture session if you miss your own, please note that you may not assume instructors in different sections will present the same materials.  Accordingly, unless you obtain advance approval from your instructor, you may not receive credit for class participation or other in-class activities when attending a section other than your own.  

Grading and Evaluation:

Grading will be based on two major assignments, in-class quizzes, class participation (incl. Blackboard postings), and the final exam. These are weighted as follows:

2 Out-of-class assignments


In-class quizzes (usually not announced)


Final Exam


Class Participation (including  attendance, preparation, in-class activities, and weekly postings on Blackboard)


Unless otherwise specified, all papers and other written assignments are to be individual efforts. Individual assignments are to be submitted to Blackboard through the Assignments tab.  (Do NOT post assignments on the Discussion boards!)  Certain portions of group assignments may require individual efforts as well. Be careful to follow instructions regarding acceptable group efforts. Plagiarism is governed by the GMU Honor Code and will not be tolerated. Instances of cheating and/or plagiarism will be referred to the Honor Committee.

Absences and Participation Credit
Absences from class for health or emergency reasons are excusable as long as some proof of the situation is provided.  Participation and quizzes missed due to excusable reasons may be made up on a case-by-case basis according to criteria dictated by the professor.  Make-up work must be discussed with the professor within 10 days of missing the class.  After that period, participation and quiz credit cannot be made up.  

Late Work -  It is the sole discretion of the instructor whether to accept late work.  If accepted, late work typically will be penalized 5-10% per day.  Pay attention to deadlines!

IMPORTANT NOTICE: None of the information presented in this course should be considered specific legal advice. Each situation is unique and requires individual attention. Students with individual legal concerns should not rely on information obtained in this course in making any legal decisions. Should you have a problem or concern requiring legal attention, you should seek specific advice from an attorney of your choosing.