Trust, Credibility and Expertise

Subject HPSC90012 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar each week for 12 weeks
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours


Admission to Master of Arts in Professional and Applied Ethics or Master of Journalism or Executive Master of Arts or Master of Public Policy and Management, or postgraduate diploma in History and Philosophy of Science.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Darrin Durant


Darrin Durant

Subject Overview:

Questions of credibility and trust are integral to the assessment of knowledge claims both within science and in the context of public debate. Questions about trust and credibility consequently arise every day in a range of professional contexts, for example in journalism and public relations, in police work, in development work, in scientific research, etc. But what is trust and what makes one trustworthy? And how do we pick out who the experts are? This course will interest students in a wide range of careers, exploring these topics together with students of applied ethics.

Questions to be covered:


  • What is trust? What makes one trustworthy?
  • Is there a decline in trust, in the media, in politicians, or in scientists for example?
  • Do we need to trust our sources of information, and do they need to trust us?
  • How do we manage conflicts that arise in relationships of trust?


  • What indicators do people rely on when trusting others, or information in the media?
  • What makes someone a credible source of information?
  • Do we need additional verification, and if so how much?


  • Should we defer to experts?
  • What role do ‘experts’ play in public debate
  • What if even the experts disagree?
  • How do we pick out who the experts are?
  • Can lay people contribute expertise?
Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • develop an understanding of recent approaches to trust, credibility, and expertise in the social sciences and humanities.
  • be able to apply these approaches to problems involving one or more of the three topics that arise in their area of professional specialisation.

A 1,500 word essay, 30% (due at the end of week 5) and a 3,500 word essay, 70% (due at the end of semester)

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to pass this subject. Regular participation in class is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 2% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Subject readings will be available online

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Arts in Professional and Applied Ethics
100 Point Master of Journalism
100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Journalism
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 point program - full time over 18 months
200 Point Master of Journalism
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 point program - full time over 18 months
200 point program - full time over 24 months
200 points Master of Arts in Professional and Applied Ethics

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