• Offered by Institute of Autonomy, Agency and Assurance
  • ANU College ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject CECS Experimental, Interdisciplinary
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Law, Philosophy, Computer Science, Artifical Intelligence
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

Cybernetic or cyber-physical systems (CPS), already surround us, and are increasingly being designed to make decisions that previously required human insight and input. In order to ensure humanity maximally benefits from these new advances in technology, the world will need practitioners who can holistically consider and manage the potential impacts of CPS on humans, each other, and our world.

Assurance is the mechanism by which risk is identified and managed in an informed and strategic way. Identifying, predicting, and mitigating risk is already known to be a challenging proposition in complex technical systems, but the possibility that a CPS is capable of evolving beyond its initial state adds an additional dimension to this challenge.

There has been a great deal of focus on ethics as it relates to assuring components of CPS, including advanced artificial intelligence, data analytics, algorithmic-based decision making and next generation process automation. If we can program a CPS with ethical guidelines, the reasoning goes, then it will make decisions in line with human interest, even as it learns from its surroundings. But ethics are socio-cultural objects, which is to say they are contextual, cultural, contingent and contested. They change over time, and across geographies and cultures. Building ethics into technical systems is a complicated proposition.

Safely scaling technical systems will take more than just an awareness of ethics; it will also require awareness of existing, and the creation of new, assurance and risk management practices. In this context, assurance is the mechanism by which risk is identified and managed in an informed and strategic way.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Investigate different CPS at scale, from the first step of data collection through to the output, describing all elements necessary to provide assurance about the CPS (and other interconnected CPS, if applicable);
  2. Understanding the governance mechanisms in which relevant decisions are made with respect to CPS, and be able to communicate with influence;
  3. Evaluate and transmit knowledge, skills and ideas to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  4. Engage successfully and confer effectively with peers from a variety of backgrounds to share prior practical skills, learn from others, and work collaboratively; and
  5. Demonstrate expert, specialised cognitive and technical skills for CPS assurance.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Project based assessment (75) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Portfolio assessment (25) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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We expect participants to dedicate around 10 hours per week to this course, for twelve weeks. This will comprise:

  • three hours per week classwork; and
  • seven hours per week dedicated to self-study, reading, and group projects.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Resource lists for this course will include a wide variety of materials, including books, articles, films, art and podcasts. Participants are not expected to read every source themselves. Generally, participants will have time to select and discuss a particular approach or framework that they will engage with.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $432
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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