Data Ethics Course

Identify, evaluate and mitigate ethical issues in data use

We’ve never had so much access to data, tracking the way we work and live. Laws and regulations tell us what we can do with data, but not necessarily what we should do. In Data Ethics, you’ll gain the insight to steer your ethical decision making.

Developed by Dr Carolyn Mason, with contributions from Dr Dean Sutherland, Dr Geoff Ford, Dr Marty J. Wolf and Dr Dan McKay.



From the board room to the shop floor, employees today are constantly raising, responding to, and thinking through various ethical issues surrounding data. This course goes beyond the regulatory requirements of what you can do, building an in-depth understanding of these issues to determine what you should do.

Gain foundational knowledge to identify and respond to ethical issues that arise when dealing with data. You’ll learn to identify, evaluate and mitigate ethical data issues, exploring concepts like autonomy, confidentiality and informed consent. Using a case-based approach, you’ll become confident using data ethics principles at every stage of data analysis to guide your practice, from planning, processing and sharing analyses.

This course includes a focus on data sovereignty, exploring how data ethics and Te Tiriti o Waitangi connect, looking at Māori data sovereignty, partnership and justice. You’ll walk away with a framework to guide your work with data, helping ensure that your processes are appropriate, ethical and impactful.   

This course is ideal for
  • People looking to upskill around ethical data use
  • Policy and business analysts and advisors
  • Database coordinators and analytics officers
  • Intelligence advisors, data scientists and consultants
  • Professionals dealing with data across the public and NGO sector, business, marketing, and communication industries 

What you'll learn

  • Confidence using and explaining key data ethics terminology, and concepts
  • Skills to identify, evaluate and mitigate ethical issues around data gathering, processing, analysis and sharing
  • An understanding of Māori data sovereignty within Aotearoa New Zealand 

Course outline

Our courses are flexible, enabling you to plan your study around your other commitments. You can choose to study when it suits you during the learning period. You can choose to study when it suits you during the learning period (7 October – 8 December, with a one-week study break from 4-10 November), followed by a 2-week review period for marking and feedback (9 –22 December).

We recommend completing around 12 hours of study a week during the learning period (excluding the study break) – you can view the course overview here for more details on assessment timings. 

Module 1: Introduction to data ethics, ethics and reasoning
Become familiar with core ethical concepts and reasoning skills that will be explored in this course.

Module 2: Gathering and generating data
Explore ethical issues around privacy, confidentiality, data sovereignty and informed consent.

Module 3: Recording and storing data
Explore ethical issues around recording and storing data, such as confidentiality, privacy, and social justice.

Module 4: Processing data
Consider the limitations of algorithms, sources of bias, cultural considerations and questions of fairness.

Module 5: Sharing data and results of data analysis
Explore ethical concerns that arise when data and results are shared or not.

Module 6: Planning
Learn how to pre-emptively identify and mitigate ethical risks during project planning.

Module 7: Synthesis
Bring together your learning and apply your ethical reasoning skills in a comprehensive case study analysis. 

Upon successful completion of the course you will be issued a digital badge to recognise your learning achievements. This can take up to 2 months to be delivered after the marking and feedback period.  


This course is equivalent to Level 8 postgraduate study therefore applicants must meet the entry criteria as approved by NZQA, and have; 

  • Either a Bachelor's degree or equivalent level qualification
  • OR equivalent professional experience in a relevant field. Learners will be asked to demonstrate equivalent professional experience, which can include paid or voluntary work. If you’d like to check if you have the equivalent professional experience you can email us at

Courses are taught in English and therefore learners should be confident reading, writing and listening in English.

Technology requirements

We recommend a laptop or desktop computer and a reliable internet connection. For most courses you'll need to download and complete assignments. These are usually available in Microsoft Word.

Course fees

Course fees must be paid before learning can begin, either via online credit-card payment, or by contacting to request an invoice. Please note: fixed invoice payment dates apply, so we recommend getting in touch with us as soon as possible to request an invoice, as this option is subject to availability.

Group discounts

Get your colleagues together to take advantage of our group discounts: 

  • 10% for 3 - 6 learners
  • 15% for 7+ learners

Contact our Partnerships Manager to learn more and enquire now.

Minimum enrolment threshold

Please note: Tuihono UC | UC Online has a minimum enrolment threshold that must be met to enable opportunities for interaction, discussion, and feedback. If the minimum number of enrolments required for a course is not met, enrolled students will be given the option to defer their enrolment to the next course date, or receive a refund. 

Our people

Dr Carolyn Mason-Data Ethics course

Dr Carolyn Mason

Lecturer | University of Canterbury

Carolyn Mason has been an ethicist or Chair on a number of ethics committees, including the Upper South Island Health and Disability Ethics Committee and the Ethics Committee for Artificial Reproductive Technology. Her university teaching has included work on health science, bioethics, data ethics, legal ethics, political philosophy, criminal justice and computer game design. Carolyn’s research includes work on people’s relationship with the environment, artificial reproductive technology legislation, de-extinction (recreating extinct species), the provision of health care, reasons for action, and friendship. 

Dr Dean Sutherland

Dr Dean Sutherland

Associate Professor | University of Canterbury

Dean Sutherland is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury. Dean has served as the Chair of the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee since 2019. His teaching and research activities includes ethics, culture, and professional practices for speech-language therapists and audiologists. 

Dr Marty J Wolf - Data Ethics course

Dr Marty J. Wolf

Professor Emeritus | Bemidji State University

Dr Marty J. Wolf is the Chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)’s Committee on Professional Ethics, and an Erskine Visiting Fellow in the Philosophy Department at the University of Canterbury. He is an Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota USA with over thirty years’ of experience teaching undergraduate computer science. His research spans theoretical computer science, bioinformatics and graph theory, and, over the last twenty years, he has engaged in collaborative interdisciplinary scholarship in computing and information ethics and the philosophy of computation. He was also part of the team that led the most recent update to the ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

Dr Dan McKay

Dr Dan McKay

Tutor | University of Canterbury

Dr Dan McKay is a philosopher specialising in ethics. He works at the University of Canterbury. His research interests include consequentialism, free will, and freedom.

Please note: our academic team develop and present video content within their courses, but are not always the course facilitator. The course facilitator will engage with learners in the course forums, answer queries and mark assignments.