Engineering ethics and the Academy 

The Academy’s work in engineering ethics began in 2003 when a working group on professional ethics was established. The Academy’s work on ethics was stimulated by the Lloyd’s Register lecture, Do engineers owe duties to the public? by John Uff CBE QC FREng. John Uff also published a number of articles in the Academy’s journal, Ingenia, on ethics in engineering practice.

Issue 15 - The engineer's public duty - The role of the institutions

Issue 14 - Principles and cases

Issue 13 - Engineering ethics – Some current issues

The Academy held its first engineering ethics conference in October 2005, at which the original statement of ethical principles was launched. 

The Academy has undertaken a range of collaborative activities on engineering ethics, bringing together the profession to agree a set of aspirational principles and working with engineering educators to explore ways of teaching engineering ethics. 

The Academy’s work on engineering ethics covers ethics in engineering education, ethics in practice and the issues surrounding emerging engineered technologies. Through events, publications and teaching resources, the Academy has sought to enrich thinking about engineering ethics and provide materials and inspiration for engineers interested in the wider impact of their work.

Statement of Ethical Principles

The Academy and the Engineering Council have together produced a statement of ethical principles. This statement was produced through discussions with engineers from a number of different engineering institutions and with philosophers specialising in applied ethics. It is intended to be a statement of the values and principles that guide engineering practice and should supplement the codes of practice published by the various engineering institutions. The statement of ethical principles was originally published in October 2005, and has since then undergone revision. The most recent version of the statement was launched in July 2017.

Statement of ethical principles (4.29 MB)

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Engineering Ethics in Practice

To bring the statement of ethical principles to life, a set of case studies was developed drawn from real engineers' experience, that shows the relevance of the ethical principles to engineering practice. It is designed for engineers to work through practical ethical examples and to explore how ethics relates to their own working lives. A full set of case studies, and a shorter summary document are available.

Engineering ethics in practice - full version (2.86 MB)

Engineering ethics in practice - shorter version (344.06 KB)

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Teaching engineering ethics

The Academy has developed a number of tools and resources for engineering educators who wish to incorporate ethical issues into their teaching. The engineering ethics curriculum map is an example of how ethics can be incorporated into an engineering degree. It is intended as a resource for all academics, is free to use and can be freely adapted.

Workshops have been held on tips for teaching engineering ethics with the Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre at the University of Leeds and on engineering ethics and accreditation, in collaboration with the Engineering Council.

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Engineering in Society

The Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied (IDEA) Centre at the University of Leeds has worked with the Academy and other partners to produce an e-book, Engineering in Society, on the place of engineering in society and what that means for practising engineers and for engineering education. 

Engineering in Society (5.84 MB)

Engineering in Society: suggestions for teaching (128.57 KB)

Interdisciplinary Ethics Applies (IDEA) Centre

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Ethics and emerging technologies

Emerging technologies generate issues around their governance, from concerns about safety to a desire to ensure equity of benefits. The Academy has included a social and ethical point of view within its work on topics such as synthetic biology. A discussion document on the social, legal and ethical issues surrounding the development and use of autonomous systems was launched in August 2009. The document is the report of a roundtable discussion from a wide range of experts, looking at the areas where autonomous systems are most likely to emerge first, and discussing the broad ethical issues surrounding their uptake.

Autonomous systems report (293.39 KB)

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