• Offered by POLIS: The Centre for Social Policy Research
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Research
  • Course subject Social Research
  • Areas of interest Human Sciences, Law
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person

The ability to conduct rigorous research in applied settings constitutes a set of skills that remain highly sought by government and non-government agencies, industry, and academia more generally. An appreciation of ethical conduct throughout the research process is a fundamental part of research projects.

This course aims to provide students with a solid understanding of the principles and practical aspects of ethical conduct in social science research. It seeks to provide the framework to help social science students critically assess their own ethical behaviour throughout the life span of a project - beyond merely complying with regulatory bodies such as HREC.


The course is in two parts. Part I sets out first principles of ethical behaviour according to the National Statement of Ethical Conduct in Human Research, as developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). A brief overview of (a) ethical approaches; (b) ethical controversies, and (c) processes of research governance and ethical review, and common antagonisms between researchers and HRECs, is also offered. Part II adopts a narrow-and-deep focus by examining ethical considerations to specific types of participants (eg., Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples; children and young people, etc)


The course is largely applied in nature (research led problem-based learning), and seeks to complement related research methods courses offered in the Master of Social Research degree, and courses taught in other ANU colleges.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate they have a firm grasp on the core principles of ethical behaviour and research integrity in the conduct of social research through the life span of a project;
  2. identify various forms of risk, and how to best manage these in an ethically responsible manner;
  3. understand how HREC works, and its responsibilities and legal obligations;
  4. write an ethics protocol to a high standard (including the provision of all support documents and protocols); and
  5. critically assess their own ethical conduct and that of their peers.

Other Information

This course is an excellent springboard into preparation for an MPhil or PhD that involves the collection of personal and sensitive information from participants.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Short essay critically examining the ethics of a hypothetical project (1000 words) (30) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Submission in ARIES play mode of an ethics protocol (3000 words) (40) [LO 4]
  3. Participation in discussion in the Wattle online forum for the course (10) [LO 1,2]
  4. Class test - multiple choice and short answers (2 hours) (20) [LO 1,2,3,5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from: 

a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 18 hours of lectures and 18 hours of tutorials; and 

b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Israel, M. (2015). Research Ethics and Integrity for Social Scientists: Beyond Regulatory Compliance (2nd ed). London: Sage.

Preliminary Reading

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2007). National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

Assumed Knowledge

Some research experience is required.


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6000
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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