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Fundamentals and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence


Admission requirements

Students need to be registered for the minor AI and Society.


This introductory course provides basic notions, concepts and terminology of Artificial Intelligence.
The course provides a frame of reference for the minor AI and Society on background, developments and applications of artificial intelligence, and an impression of the state-of-the-art.

Throughout the course, different teachers will introduce the students to fundamental terminology, techniques and applications. The lectures will address human intelligence and learning as model for artificial intelligence, why AI leads to ethical, legal and societal issues, how these can be understood (ethics) and addressed (different types of regulation).

This course aims to develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of AI and the ethical issues that may arise when operating as a professional in the domain of AI. Therefore, this interdisciplinary course takes technological, (neuro)psychological and ethical perspectives. These fundamentals will help students to familiarize themselves with AI, AI technology and ethical theory, analysis and argumentation. Students will develop the necessary skills to bring ethical theory into practice by constructively discussing ethical dilemmas specific to the context of AI.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course

  • To develop a common frame of reference and terminology for AI for the students of the minor program

  • To develop basic knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of AI, including history, typology and current status of AI

  • To develop basic insight into functionality and limitations of different types of AI applications for different contexts

  • To provide basic concepts and theory for ethical reflection on AI in Society

Achievement levels
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
Upon completion of the course, students can

  • give a definition of AI and describe its historical and philosophical background

  • describe and explain basic concepts of AI

  • distinguish and recognize types of AI and AI techniques

  • apply basic AI terminology to classify different applications of AI in society and their own discipline

  • present normative arguments ethical dilemmas specific to the context of AI using basic ethical concepts and frameworks.

  • discuss societal impacts of AI from different perspectives using a common vocabulary


Check MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


  • Number of (2 hour) lectures/seminars: 10

  • Names of lecturers: Lecturer(s): Francien Dechesne (FdR), Daan Pelt (LIACS), Peter van der Putten (LIACS), Roy de Kleijn (FSW), guest presentations/demos.

  • Required preparation by students: materials and instructions as provided via Brightspace. Session 7 will contain a practical assignment which is obligatory for entry to the exam.

**Important note about the character of the sessions: **

Active preparation and participation of all students is expected in all lectures/seminars. This interaction serves to get acquainted with the diversity of backgrounds of the participating students in the minor, to optimize the delivery of the course material to the group composition, and to leverage the interdisciplinary interaction between students within the minor program.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)

  • Practical assignment: Session 7 will contain a practical assignment (pass/fail). Passing this assignment is obligatory for entry to the written exam.

  • Written exam (entry conditional on passing the practical assignment; grade counts 100%).

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination material consists of all content covered in the lectures/seminars, the required readings as listed on Brightspace, and the slides.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials
See brightspace.

Recommended course materials
See brightspace.


Check the website under “course and exam enrollment” for information on how to register for the course.

Contact information

  • Coordinator: Dr. Francien Dechesne

  • Work address: Kamerlingh Onnes Building, Steenschuur 25

  • Contact information:

  • Telephone number: +31 71 527 7608

  • Email:


  • Institute: Metajuridica

  • Department: eLaw

  • Room number secretary: B1.14

  • Opening hours: Monday, Thursday, Friday

  • Telephone number secretary: +31 71 527 8838

  • Email:


In case of (corona)restrictions imposed by the government, this course description is subject to change.