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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


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Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is rapidly developing and is increasingly being applied across sectors, posing significant ethical and societal challenges. There is therefore a national and global need to  adequately equip future leaders and decision-makers to address these challenges. The Masters of Studies in AI Ethics and Society addresses this need. The MSt is an academically rigorous part-time programme aimed at professionals from business, public, and social sectors working with AI. The programme will provide students with the critical skills, knowledge and analytical abilities needed to identify and address ethical challenges as they arise in practice from the application of AI. The MSt will engage with the ethical and societal challenges of AI and is thoroughly informed by the knowledge, theories and methods of established academic disciplines from philosophy to computer science.

The MSt AI Ethics and Society is developed and taught by the University’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI), a global research centre at the forefront of AI Ethics and impact research, in partnership with the Institute of Continuing Education. Because the programme is run by a specialist research centre, rather than by a department, the curriculum is uniquely multidisciplinary, informed by up-to-the-minute research developments, and incorporates experts from diverse areas, including philosophy, machine learning, computer science, policy, law, and more. Visit for more information on the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence.

Course delivery: We plan to deliver our postgraduate and MSt qualifications in-person in the academic year 2021-22. Please note that this will be reviewed in line with the latest public health guidance available at the time. If required, to ensure the health and safety of students, we may look to utilise alternative teaching formats and will contact students if we expect changes to the course delivery.


Teaching & Assessment

Residentials in Cambridge

Students are expected to attend all week-long residentials in Cambridge, as follows:

  • 27 September - 1 October 2021
  • 10 - 14 January 2022 
  • 20 - 24 June 2022
  • 12 - 16 September 2022 (tbc)

Year 1

Module 1: The Nature and History of AI

Aims: To provide students with theoretical, academic and practical understanding of how artificial intelligence has been developed, used and understood historically across different traditions, and how it is being applied in society today.

Key areas:

● The technical foundations of AI and the current capabilities and status of the technology

● Current applications of AI across a range of domains and sectors

● The history of AI and its relationship to other disciplines and technologies, including the history of computing and administration

● The nature and measurement of intelligence, and comparisons between human, animal and artificial intelligence

Module 2: Ethical and Societal Challenges

Aims: To provide students with a comprehensive understanding of key ethical and societal challenges raised by AI, through engagement with the contemporary critical literature and case studies.

Key areas:

● Critical discussion of the following themes:

- Privacy

- Fairness and equality

- Safety

- Accountability

- Human dignity and autonomy

● The relationship between the near- and long-term challenges of AI

● Comparison of different global perspectives

Module 3: Theories and Methods

Aims: To increase rigor and depth in understanding and analysing the ethical and societal challenges of AI by introducing students to foundational knowledge, theories and methods in established academic disciplines.

Key areas:

● Theories and methods from the following disciplines:

- Philosophical ethics

- The history and philosophy of science

- Literary and cultural studies

- Social and behavioural sciences

- Futures studies and foresight methods

- Critical design studies

Year 2

Module 4: Governing AI

Aims: To critically engage with a range of practical approaches to navigating the ethical and societal challenges of AI, including those found in policy, regulation, law, ethics principles, and social action.

Key areas:

● Comparison and critical analysis of current AI policy initiatives worldwide

● Overview and critical discussion of different codes of practice and principles for AI ethics, and their implementation

● Critical discussion of methods for ethical impact assessment

● Critical discussion of methods for ethical design

● The role of activism and civil society

Module 5: Dissertation

Aims: To enable students to apply and develop their learning from Modules 1-4 through an innovative, independent research project in an area relevant to the course, topic and scope to be agreed with the supervisor.


Assignments on the MSt are divided into two components: the essays, taken as a group, and the dissertation. 

The modules are assessed as follows:

● Module 1: 2,000 word essay (8% of final grade)

● Modules 2, 3 and 4: 4,500 word essay each (14% each of final grade)

All summative assessment is compulsory. Students will receive continual formative feedback throughout the course using a variety of strategies and techniques, including evidence of regular reflection.

In the second year (module 5), students will write a 15,000 word dissertation which accounts for 50% of the final grade.

Course dates

27 Sep 2021 to 30 Jun 2023

Course duration

2 Years

Apply by

31 Mar 2021

Course fee

Home: £20,000
Overseas: £30,000


Various locations
United Kingdom

Qualifications / Credits

180 credits at Master of Studies

Course code