Course Outline

SEC602 Ethics in Digital Investigation and Cyber Security

Course Coordinator:Nayson Machin ( School:School of Science, Technology and Engineering

2022Semester 1

USC Sunshine Coast

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.


Online You can do this course without coming onto campus.

Please go to the USC website for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


How should digital investigators and cyber security specialists conduct themselves in their profession? How might moral philosophy inform ethical practice in this arena? What does ethical practice in this arena look like? In this online course you will examine ethical challenges for cyber security and digital investigations in the digital environment. You will examine different ethical frameworks that underpin critical decision-making in digital environment investigations and examine ethical issues relating to information management and obligations in respect of managing risks. You will learn to recognise conflict of interests, and how to manage them.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Learning materials – Asynchronous learning material. 2hrs Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – On campus workshop. 2hrs Week 1 13 times
Learning materials – Asynchronous learning material. 2hrs Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – Online interactive zoom workshop. 2hrs Week 1 13 times

Course Topics


How is human behaviour regulated?

What does cyber-harm look like?

What is my duty? (Deontological ethics)

What will achieve the most good? (Utilitarian ethics)

What should I aspire to be? (Virtue ethics)

What are applied ethics?


The virtual reality of privacy and public space

Information management: privacy and dataveillance

Information management: data integrity

Risk management as a moral obligation

Networking ethics for cyber-cummunity safety

Should cybercrime be investigated? (Policy ethics)

What level is this course?

600 Level (Specialised)

Demonstrating a specialised body of knowledge and set of skills for professional practice or further learning. Advanced application of knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Explain, apply, and justify ethical frameworks and decision-making in cybersecurity and digital investigations. Knowledgeable
2 Reflect and recognise differing ethical perspectives in cybersecurity and digital investigations. Empowered
3 Identify harms, conflicts, and risks in cybersecurity and digital investigations. Knowledgeable
4 Undertake and communicate research, analysis, and conclusions to specialist and non-specialist audiences. Engaged

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the USC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Enrolled in Program SC509, SC517, SC705 or BU708


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

This course will have weekly check-ins via zoom chats to ensure you are managing the content and expectations of the course. 

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Literature Review (or component) Individual 15%
1000 words
Week 4 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 2 Case Study Individual 35%
Week 10 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Essay Individual 50%
2500 words
Week 13 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All - Assessment Task 1:Annotated bibliography
You will develop and apply information literacy skills.
Product: Literature Review (or component)
You will research and produce an initial annotated bibliography of sources relevant to the completion of Assessment 4.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Identification of 5 different sources, at least 4 of which are scholarly academic works.
Compliance with APA7 referencing style.
Accuracy & content of summaries satisfy task criteria.
2 4
All - Assessment Task 2:Ethical decision-making
You will explain and reflect on an ethical decision-making process contrasting the application of two different ethical frameworks in relation to the investigation of a cybersecurity episode scenario.
Product: Case Study
You will write an assessment and evaluation of the decision-making of a character described in a case study scenario against two theoretical ethics frameworks.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Different ethical perspectives are recognised and identified.
Ethical frameworks are explained and applied within the scenario.
Ethical frameworks are used to evaluate and justify decision-making.
1 2
All - Assessment Task 3:Ethics policies and analysis
You will develop and apply ethical skills in the consideration and critiquing of cybersecurity policy options.
Product: Essay
Building on and elaborating the annotated bibliography produced for Task 1, you will respond to a question concerning cybersecurity policy of moral significance. Applying ethical frameworks and concepts learnt during this course, you will evaluate policy options and the morally significant issues arising. You will demonstrate your acquired understanding of moral justification and ethical efficacy.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Ethical frameworks and decision-making explained and justified.
Different ethical perspectives, harms, conflicts, and risks relevant to ransomware policy are identified and considered.
2 3
Essay is well researched and analysis clearly communicated.

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Directed study hours may vary by location. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

Please note that you need to have regular access to the resource(s) listed below. Resources may be required or recommended.

Required? Author Year Title Edition Publisher
Required Mary Manjikian 2018 Cybersecurity Ethics: An Introduction n/a Routledge
Recommended Jonathan Beever,Rudy McDaniel,Nancy A. Stanlick 0 Understanding Digital Ethics n/a n/a

Specific requirements

This is an online course therefore access to a computer and stable internet connection for at least 10 hours a week is essential. For synchronous online tutorial classes, access to a computer equipped with in-built or peripheral webcam and microphone is necessary.

How are risks managed in this course?

Health and safety risks for this course have been assessed as low. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Eligibility for Supplementary Assessment

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct.

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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The SafeUSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

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General Enquiries

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