Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Thesis submitted for the award of Doctorate in Engineering Education


The focus of this thesis is on the provision and evaluation of ethics in engineeringprogrammes in Ireland, by placing this examinationin the wider cultural context of engineering education.The study benefitted from the support of the national accrediting body Engineers Ireland, and included 23 engineering programmes from 2 institutes of technology and 4 universities in Ireland which underwent accreditation between 2017-2019.By using a Critical Realistframe, the study undertakes a multi-layeredinvestigation of the engineering education system that takes into consideration theindividual level of single agents such as instructors and evaluators, the institutional level comprised of engineering programmes, as well as the policy level represented by the national accrediting body. Furthermore, through retroduction,the generative mechanism affecting the activity at these levelsis explained to be theculture of engineering education and its valorisation of the technical over the social dimension of engineering, at societal level.The analysis suggests that thelower weight of ethics and its unsystematic implementation in the engineering curriculumas well asthe challenges encountered in the teaching and evaluation of ethicsare rooted in a cultural perception of engineering as a “nuts and bolts” discipline.To dismantle the two distinct societal and technical cultures existing in engineering education, the study proposes moving from a treatment of ethics as a curriculum add-on towards a full reorientation and development of engineering curriculum “for” ethics. Engineering education “for” ethics is a transformative process, which aims to challenge existing core assumptions and values promoted in engineering education.The studyarguesthat measures targeting each of theontological domains andlevelsmentionedabove need to be considered in the process of transformation of engineering education towards a hybrid modeland its identification as a socio-technical discipline.