Course Details

Course Code GSOE9210
Course Title Engineering Decisions
Units of Credit 6
Course Website
Handbook Entry

Course Summary

This course focuses on the logic of rational decision-making. The topics covered include:

  • Representing decisions
  • Decision-making under uncertainty
  • Measuring belief and uncertainty
  • Measuring preference
  • Decisions involving others

Course Timetable

The course timetable is available here .

Course Aims

The course will help prepare you for decision-making roles by developing your analytical decision-making skills.

Student Learning Outcomes

After you've successfully completed this course you should be able to:

  • identify the key elements in a decision
  • model decisions in analytical form
  • compare modelling trade-offs and their implications
  • apply a variety of analytical techniques to derive solutions to decision models
  • evaluate, revise, and justify decision models and their solutions

General Educational benefits

Rational decision-making skill has broad applicability in almost every aspect of an individual's professional and personal lives, enriching their own lives, those of the people around them, and society in general.

Assumed Knowledge

There are no specific prerequisites for this course other than knowledge assumed of anyone with a technical background. Elementary knowledge of statistics, probability, and discrete mathematics will be helpful. The most important prerequisites are general logical reasoning and problem-solving skills and some facility/familiarity with abstract thought.

Teaching Rationale

Ron Howard, Professor of Economic-Engineering Systems at Stanford:

“If . . . decision-theoretic structures do not in the future occupy a large part of the education of engineers, then the engineering profession will find that its traditional role of managing scientific and economic resources for the benefit of man has been forfeited to another profession.”

—Ron Howard (1966)

Professor of Management Science and Engineering

Stanford University

Teaching and Learning Activities

The course's teaching and learning activities include:

  • Self-study: each week various resources (eg, videos) will be made available to introduce the course's main topics
  • Discussion: forum(s) for each week/topic allow discussion to clarify or expand upon that week's topic. The forum(s) constitute a peer-oriented medium for collaborative learning
  • Practice: each week practice problems will be provided to further develop understanding
  • Support: regular interactive sessions will provide additional support for student learning

Course Schedule

The course consists of ten (10) weeks of classes. Each week, learning resources, such as video lessons and practice exercise sets, will be provided. No new material will be covered in week 6, but some supplementary material or optional tutorials/consultation classes may be scheduled.

Assessment for this course consists of four (4) in-course online quizzes and a final exam. The quizzes will be held in weeks 3, 5, 7, and 10.


The final mark for the course is based on a combination of in-course assessment and a final exam. The in-course assessment contributes 40% of the final mark; it consists of four (4) online quizzes each worth 10%. The final exam is worth the remaining 60%. The schedule for the quizzes can be found in the Course Schedule above.

All assessments (including quizzes and the final exam) will be conducted online.

Each quiz is only worth 10% of your final mark. Their primary purpose is to help you monitor your progress so that when you get to the final exam, you'll have a reasonable idea of where you're at. The other purpose is to help keep you on schedule, so you're not tempted to let yourself fall behind. The quizzes are intended to reward those who engage in the course and keep up to date.

You will receive a mark of 0 if you miss a quiz. If you attempt a quiz you make yourself ineligible for special consideration. To be eligible for special consideration a valid special consideration request must be submitted before the start of the quiz, or, if this was impossible, as soon as possible thereafter (see Special Consideration below for details).

Each quiz covers all topics from the start of the course up to and including the time of the quiz, including any topics covered on the week of the quiz up to the time of the quiz.

All the quizzes are entirely multiple choice. Each question will have only one correct answer. Not all questions are of equal value.

To discourage random guessing, some answers to some questions may incur penalties for incorrect answers. That is, negative marks may apply to some questions if you choose the wrong answer. Questions with penalties will not be indicated, so you won't know to which questions a penalty will apply. For questions to which penalties apply, the maximum penalty will be half of the maximum mark of the question. Penalties will only apply to questions you answer incorrectly; if you don't answer a question, you won't incur any penalty for that question.

For each assessment, fractional marks will be rounded down to the next lowest whole mark; that is, the fractional mark will be discarded.

You must complete each quiz by yourself. You are not allowed to cooperate or communicate with anyone else for the entire period that the quiz window is open. This means you must not use a phone or any other communications device (this includes a computer) and must not talk, text, message, email, etc., to/with anyone else. Communicating with others during this period is considered cheating and will incur severe penalties, which may include failing the course, or, if deemed serious enough, expulsion from the university.

You are not allowed to copy or reproduce an assessment task in any way (eg, taking photos, screenshots, and/or saving the html source). The IP for assessments is protected; copying and/or distributing an assessment task is stealing and will face serious penalties.


The course uses a full grading scheme, following the UNSW scale:

85+ → HD, 75–84 → DN, 65–74 → CR, 50–64 → PS

Watching the videos and working through the exercises should be enough to pass the course. Some of the assessment questions may cover material that hasn't been explicitly covered in the course material, or which anticipate topics covered more fully later. The expectation is that students who wish to achieve high grades will devote additional time reading outside of the course and reflecting on the course material in greater depth.

Special consideration

For information about special consideration and to submit a special consideration request, see UNSW's special consideration policy .

There will be no supplementary assessment for quizzes. If you miss a quiz you will receive 0 for that quiz unless you have been granted special consideration. Do not attempt a quiz if you are adversely affected by illness or misadventure; if you attempt a quiz you become ineligible for special consideration.

If you are granted special consideration for one or more quizzes, then at the end of the course your marks will be calculated as follows. If you have been granted special consideration for one quiz, the missed quiz mark will be replaced by your median mark in the other three quizzes. If you have been granted special consideration for two quizzes, your mark for one of the missed quizzes will be replaced by the minimum of the other two; the other missed quiz will receive 0. If you miss more than two quizzes, you will receive 0 marks for all the missed quizzes, regardless of special consideration; in this case you should seek advice from your student support service for options (eg, withdrawing from the course).

The supplementary exam is only offered under very special circumstances. For details, follow this link . If you are granted special consideration before the final exam, you should not sit the exam. If you are affected by illness or similar during the exam you should only apply for special consideration if you believe that your original mark was so affected as to be significantly worse than what you would score under normal circumstances. In such cases, you should only apply for a supplementary exam with the understanding that, prior to knowing the outcome of the original assessment, the original mark for that assessment will be discarded. Note that original assessment marks, final exam marks, and the overall course grade, will not be released to students prior to completion of the supplementary exam. Be warned that the difficulty of the supplementary exam may exceed that of the original exam.

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as using the words or ideas of others and presenting them as your own . UNSW treats plagiarism as academic misconduct, which means that it carries penalties as severe as being excluded from further study at UNSW. There are several on-line sources to help you understand what plagiarism is and how it is dealt with at UNSW, see Plagiarism and Academic Integrity . Make sure that you read and understand these. Ignorance is not accepted as an excuse.

Resources for Students

Class materials are available on this website and/or on Moodle. For some materials students may need to log-in. Class materials consist of lecture notes (and copies of the slides), tutorial problems, and reference materials.

The lectures are recorded and are available to students through Moodle. See the course menu on the left for a link to the Moodle site.

There is no prescribed textbook for the course. The materials provided are sufficient to prepare you for the assessment. Additional reference materials will be provided during the course.

Reference books
Luce and Raiffa. Games and Decisions . Dover, 1957.
One of the classic references on game and decision theory. Middle to advanced level. Most relevant for the latter parts of the course.
Straffin, P. Game theory and strategy . Mathematical Association of America, 1993.

Course Evaluation and Development

Student feedback for this course will be obtained via an electronic survey at the end of session for the purposes of ongoing improvements to the course. Students are encouraged to provide informal feedback to the lecturer in charge during the course. Constructive feedback is welcome.

Overall, student feedback for the course in previous terms has been positive. The course is constantly evolving to meet the needs of students and the demands of online learning.

Resource created Monday 05 September 2022, 05:15:47 PM, last modified Friday 25 November 2022, 11:34:49 PM.

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