University of Technology Sydney

49001 Judgment and Decision Making

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Engineering: Professional Practice and Leadership
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject develops understanding of rational decision aids in light of modern descriptive theories of judgment, choice and decision in organisations. The methods of management science, decision analysis and judgment analysis are presented, and models of individual, group and strategic decision-making are critically assessed.

Drawing on the insights of psychology, sociology and management science, this subject aims to inform you about the many facets of good judgment associated with decision-making. The subject is suitable for engineering, business and supply chain students alike. The key topics of decision trees, multi-attribute decisions, consideration of risk, and holistic decision making are all particularly relevant to all industry practitioners and stakeholders.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Show a well developed awareness of management behaviour, the structure of organisations and the way decisions are made.
2. Explain the particular difficulties many technical people experience when faced with managerial decision-making
3. Analyse and propose solutions to typical managerial problems/opportunities using rational, analytical decision modelling.
4. Communicate and explain the dichotomies of decision-making in the presence of hazards and risk.
5. Demonstrate a knowledge of the psychology of judgment and the nature of individual decision-making and be able to explain the critical importance of psychological factors, personal values and social norms.
6. Recognise the advantages and drawbacks of group decision-making and be able to effectively manage individual decisions in their domain of expertise as well as more broad ranging group decisions.
7. Exhibit a sound knowledge of key current thinking regarding the sociology of strategic decisions.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

  • Socially Responsible: FEIT graduates identify, engage, and influence stakeholders, and apply expert judgment establishing and managing constraints, conflicts and uncertainties within a hazards and risk framework to define system requirements and interactivity. (B.1)
  • Design Oriented: FEIT graduates apply problem solving, design thinking and decision-making methodologies in new contexts or to novel problems, to explore, test, analyse and synthesise complex ideas, theories or concepts. (C.1)
  • Technically Proficient: FEIT graduates apply theoretical, conceptual, software and physical tools and advanced discipline knowledge to research, evaluate and predict future performance of systems characterised by complexity. (D.1)
  • Collaborative and Communicative: FEIT graduates work as an effective member or leader of diverse teams, communicating effectively and operating autonomously within cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural contexts in the workplace. (E.1)
  • Reflective: FEIT graduates critically self-review their own and others' performance with a high level of responsibility to improve and practice competently for the benefit of professional practice and society. (F.1)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Engineers Australia Stage 1 competencies
Students enrolled in the Master of Professional Engineering should note that this subject contributes to the assurance of Engineers Australia Stage 1 competencies: 1.5, 2.4, 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6.

Teaching and learning strategies

An important part of the subject design is aimed at providing opportunity for students to develop their reasoning skills as well as their independent learning capacity.

Student learning in the subject is facilitated by a combination of:

1. Active learning tasks to reinforce and consolidate learning. Tasks are scheduled for each teaching session week (see "Program" below) The tasks include text reading, undertaking self-assessment/evaluation problems and completing computer based tests. The subject’s Reading Material and Exercises book (RME) is a collection of resources used for both in-class and out of class learning activities. It contains readings to supplement the set text. The readings serve to amplify points in the text or illustrate a different emphasis. Included exercises are designed to encourage thoughtful reading of the text, to allow self-testing of comprehension and to encourage reflection on implications for industry and real life practice. The coordinator’s sample responses to a reasonable proportion of the exercises are provided to scaffold engagement by the student, offer immediate feedback and to assist productive self-assessment of learning.

The assessment regime of the subject requires every student to have some involvement with the learning opportunities associated with the RME. However, the resource also offers extension subject matter. The RME is particularly valuable for those students who wish to do more than just study the basics and offers an opportunity to gain a far more rounded and deeper understanding of judgment and decision making than will be achieved by simply focusing on the text, assignments and examination preparation.

2. Contact meetings that incorporate:

  • Blended lectures that aim at providing supplementary explanation and broader real-life context to many of the theoretical concepts contained in text. Information is drawn from the text and the literature and some synthesis is attempted. A degree of practicality is introduced through anecdotes, which assists the student make connections to an industry framework.
  • Collaborative single sentence response tasks aimed at identifying the level of understanding of important concepts.
  • Small group collaborative quizzes, discussion exercises and problems.
  • Collaborative student guided completion of structured decision problems.
  • Student presentations and peer review and feedback.
  • Question and answer sessions offering an opportunity to progressively raise queries and to discuss and clarify concepts regarding text content and assignment tasks.

Student engagement is required in all small group activities embedded in the contact meetings. Many of the activities promote the benefit of establishing a small out of class study group that meets regularly.

Students have access to an extensive set of digital self-learning resources. These resources have been developed and organised to assist a student to work through the subject topics and the text in a measured and comprehensive manner. They may be downloaded or streamed from UTSOnline.

3. Encouraged consultation directly after contact meetings and by out of meeting email correspondence. Questions raised as part of this consultation will form the basis of daily announcements that provide advice, guidance and feedback via UTSOnline. The announcements aim at assisting student learning and motivating continuous engagement.

4. Completion of three online tests for each of the eight sections in the RME book. When considered in total, these twenty-four tests provide continuous formative assessment. The tests are designed to assist students to understand many of the subtilties contained in the text. Computer provided feedback is available on completion of each test. The tests allow students to immediately become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and to address knowledge and/or understanding deficiencies. Students may retake the tests multiple times and at any stage of the teaching session.

5. Assignments that reinforce aspects of theories set out in the text but are also designed and structured to allow students to reflect on real life application and to develop practical skills.

6. Use of similarity detection software. Each assignment offers at least one opportunity to submit a draft and obtain similarity feedback. This allows the student to reflect on their success in putting information in their own words and where necessary to appropriately reference the words of others.

7. Study for the final examination. (An early to mid-session class activity is used to encourage discussion of possible exam preparation study approaches).

Note: Feedback from Week 1 tasks; Management Setting Tests 1, 2 and 3; Decision Analysis Tests 1, 2 and 3 and a number self-assessment problems are all available prior to the census date for the teaching session.

Study approach

The Subject Outline for the specific session of study being undertaken must be read in conjunction with the Supplementary Instructions. Both documents will be posted on UTSOnline and provide information and advice on many facets of the subject content, its administration and the student’s obligations. It is mandatory that students obtain, read and comply with the requirements of both the subject outline and supplementary instructions.

All key subject announcements will be made using UTSOnline. Students are expected to regularly check the announcements page for information.

Whilst your study approach is a personal choice, do keep in mind that this subject is not one that can be mastered by some cursory reading and frantic activity prior to the due dates for assignments and reviewing the material a few weeks prior to the final exam.

A willingness to take personal responsibility is a key element of successful learning. It is estimated that you should set aside a minimum total of approximately 9 hours of study time per week (inclusive of any face to face contact) throughout the session. This is a rough guide only as people learn at different rates and will approach the subject from different backgrounds and levels of experience and have different ambitions and expectations in regard to outcomes.

To maximise your learning from this subject you should work consistently and progressively throughout all weeks of the teaching session. The best way to achieve this is to plan your study time at the beginning of the session and make sure you adhere to the planned schedule. In developing a study schedule please note that you will find that the information load in each topic is not identical, for example “The Management Setting” exceeds that of the others by a factor of about two and may need proportionally greater effort and time. "Decision Analysis" requires the understanding that can only be developed by attempting the set of self-assessment problems. Many of the subject insights are associated with human behaviour and bias, they often take people considerable time to process and fully come to terms with and absorb. Also be aware of the assignment due dates as they set time limits for achieving necessary competence in some aspects of material comprehension and subject objectives. It is also reasonable to expect assignment deadlines will add a potential work load peak.

Assessment task 1 aims at encouraging you to immediately commence detailed study of the subject content and to use the text and the reading material in a thoughtful and productive manner.

The subject is literature based. The approach is very academic in the traditional sense, information is drawn from the body of knowledge and some synthesis is attempted. A degree of practicality is introduced through anecdotes, which lightens the experience for the student and assists them make connections to an industry framework.

The contact meetings and available subject resources (refer "Required texts" and "Other resources") focus on students undertaking conscientious engagement with significant components of a body of knowledge. It is important to understand the difference between rote learning and the development of expertise. Rote learning merely helps you retain material in your Short Term Memory. ‘Elaborative rehearsal’ which places the material into your Long Term Memory is crucial for the development of professional expertise. Elaborative rehearsal requires you to pay attention to the meaning of the material (understanding) and, in the process, try to relate items with each other and with the structure of the facts and evidence. Elaborative rehearsal will place the material into ‘schemata’, or structures in your cognition that relate one item to another, rather than into groups of disjointed facts. This is the underlying basis of expertise and will enhance efficiency during the formal examination and better application of domain knowledge in stressful industry situations.

The UTSOnline tests and contact meeting activities will aid elaborative rehearsal.

Content (topics)

The list below sets out the seven basic topics of the subject and the appropriate chapters in the textbook and the Reading Material and Exercises book (RME):

  • The Management Setting; chapters 1, 2 and 3; RME section 1
  • Decision Analysis; chapter 4; RME section 2
  • Multi-attribute Decisions; chapter 5; RME section 3
  • Engineering and Social Risk; chapter 6; RME section 4
  • Cognitive Processes; chapter 7; RME section 5
  • Individual and Group Decisions; chapters 8 and 9; RME sections 6 and 7
  • Strategic Decisions; chapters 10, 11 and 12; RME section 8

The Reading Material and Exercises book is divided into eight sections. The literature tends to treat individual and group decisions as separate areas of study however the coordinator, more recently, has taken the view that Group Decisions can be reasonably considered to be a special or extended case of Individual Decision Making.


Assessment task 1: Abstract assignment


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, E.1 and F.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Total Assignment length = 4 x (300 plus 150) = 1800 words. The word limit for each individual component must not be exceeded by more than 10%. Accordingly, each abstract must be no more than 330 words followed by an experience example of no more than 165 words.

Assessment task 2: Group talk assignment


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1 and E.1

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 25%

The group verbal presentation is tightly time contrained. The group report is limited to two pages in length (conceptually a single sheet of paper printed on both sides). The individual tasks undertaken during the presentation meeting must be submitted at the end of the meeting.

Assessment task 3: UTSOnline Web-based Tests


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1 and D.1

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 5%

Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of subject content

Assessment task 4: Formal Examination


This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1 and D.1

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of subject content

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

The text is essential. The set text is Parkin, J.V. (1996) Management Decisions for Engineers, Thomas Telford, London.

Note: free, legal pdf versions of each chapter of the text can be obtained from the web (details will be provided on the Canvas announcement board).

The text may be purchased from online book sellers or ordered from the Co-op Bookshop refer to

Other resources


The subject is supported by Canvas

Substantive subject advice will be provided progressively throughout the study session via the subject’s Canvas site. Access to the site will be available to enrolled students at the beginning of the session. Students enrolling after the start of the session will experience a delay before access is granted.

The site is intended to be your resource and web interface. Please note that UTS prides itself as a place of learning and tolerance. The University will take action to protect its reputation in this regard. Student behaviour within the Canvas virtual portal should be in keeping with appropriate behaviour anywhere on the campus. Please be aware that the University and the lecturer monitor the site and that the software supports extensive traceability of activity.

Supplementary Instructions

The Supplementary Instructions document is posted on Canvas. It must be read in conjunction with the study session specific Subject Outline.

The Reading Material and Exercises (RME) and Lecture Support Notes (LSN) books.

The Reading Material and Exercises book contains a number of readings to supplement the set text. The RME is made up of copies of journal papers or portions of key books and are written by acknowledged experts in the field. Each section of the RME starts with a brief introduction to the material and how it relates to management decision-making. This is followed by statement of the learning objectives of the section. It must be emphasised that the learning objectives cannot be achieved without working through the material in a measured fashion. The Exercises are designed to encourage you to read the Text and Readings thoughtfully and the exercises will allow you to test your comprehension. Sample EXEMPLAR responses to some of the exercises are provided.

The Lecture Support Notes are provided as a resource additional to the Text and the RME. The LSN is the focus of the blended lecture series associated with the subject.

Electronic copies of the RME and LSN are freely available to all enrolled students via Canvas.