University Anti-Corruption Course

Purpose of the course

The University Anti-Corruption Course, “Preventing Corruption on Infrastructure Projects”, has been designed and written by GIACC. 

This course is intended to form part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree or professional qualification for students who are studying subjects relevant to the infrastructure sector (e.g. engineering, architecture, project management, procurement, quantity surveying).

The course is designed to provide prospective professionals in the infrastructure sector with the knowledge and understanding to help them avoid, prevent and deal effectively with any corruption which they may encounter in their professional lives.

The course may also be of interest and use to students in other business sectors and in professional fields such as law, accounting, and business management.  The analysis and examples given in this course focus on the infrastructure sector but are also applicable to, and can be adapted for, other sectors.

Corruption causes significant damage and undermines the proper functioning of society.  It can have devastating consequences for those individuals and organisations who are affected by or involved in it.  It is critical, therefore, that effective steps are taken to prevent corruption from the outset or, if it occurs, to deal with it appropriately. 

The infrastructure sector is said to be one of the most corrupt sectors.  It provides a multitude of opportunities for corruption.  Professionals working in the sector are, at some time or even at numerous times in their professional lives, likely to be faced with dilemmas relating to corruption.

It is therefore of vital importance that, as part of their training, prospective professionals are taught about what corruption is, how and why it occurs on infrastructure projects, the cost of corruption, and how to avoid and deal with it.  This course aims to fulfil this purpose. 

Course content

The Course is divided into the following eight sections:

  • Section 1: Introduction to course:  This section contains an introduction to the course purpose and content.
  • Section 2: What is corruption:  This section considers: 1) what is meant by the term “corruption”; 2)  how the law treats corrupt acts as civil wrongs and/or as criminal offences; 3) the main types of corruption offences; and 4) the corruption offences which students are likely to encounter when working on infrastructure projects.  These types of corruption offences which students are likely to encounter are: 1) bribery; 2) extortion; 3) fraud; 4) cartels; 5) abuse of function; and 6) embezzlement.
  • Section 3: How corruption occurs on infrastructure projects:  This section examines: 1) how the infrastructure project process works (the project participants, the different project phases, and the typical contractual structures); 2) how corruption occurs in each project phase; and 3) how corruption is concealed on infrastructure projects (such as by using intermediaries to pay bribes, or by using concealed ownership structures).
  • Section 4: Why corruption occurs on infrastructure projects:  This section considers the different motivators which may lead someone to become involved in corruption (such as the desire for illicit gain, or to level the playing field), and the numerous factors which facilitate corruption on infrastructure projects (such as the involvement of public officials, high cost projects, differences between projects, the complexity of construction works, and inadequate anti-corruption controls).
  • Section 5: The cost of corruption:  This section considers the cost of corruption and the difficulty in quantifying such cost.  The categories of cost include:  1) defective or dangerous infrastructure;  2) over-priced infrastructure;  3) lower investment;  4) poor public services;  and 5) the undermining of the proper functioning of society.
  • Section 6: Dealing with corruption:  This section considers the four value systems which impact on how an individual deals with corruption: personal ethics, professional ethics, employer ethics, and the criminal law.  It also considers the steps that should be taken by professional institutions and employers to prevent corruption; and what those working in the infrastructure sector should do to avoid corruption or if they are faced with a corrupt situation.
  • Section 7: Case study: The Galaxy Highway:  This section is a hypothetical case study which enables students to examine a series of dilemmas which arise in the various phases of the fictitious Galaxy Highway project.  It helps students apply what they have learnt in the course to the hypothetical facts of the case study.  The case study is divided into sub-sections, each with its own narrative of facts and questions for consideration and discussion. 
  • Section 8: Corruption Cases:  Detailed Case Studies:  This section contains the eight detailed case studies of real life corruption cases which are referred to in Sections 1 to 6. Many of these cases are internationally renowned.  Learning about these cases will help students understand the reality of the significant and widespread nature of corruption.

Division of the course content between seminars

The course content has been designed to be delivered in one term or semester. 

The Course List of Contents shows a suggested division of the course content into 12 seminars.  These 12 seminars have been designed to contain a reasonable length of reading and number of questions for each seminar.  For a 12-week semester/term, this would allow for one seminar per week over the whole semester/term, or two seminars per week over a half semester/term.  If a university or college has a different length of semester/term to 12 weeks, then it can choose an alternative seminar sub-division to the 12 suggested, or can adjust the weekly number of seminars.

The discussion material is intended to keep students fully occupied in discussion for seminar lengths of between 60 and 90 minutes.  However, inevitably, the length of time this material takes to discuss will depend fundamentally on how actively students participate in the discussion.  If they are very active, there may be too much material.  If they are not, there may be too little material. 

Teaching the course

The course has been designed to be taught primarily by a combination of reading of the course material by the students in their own time followed by tutor-led discussion of that material in seminars.  For this purpose, all Sections contain a series of questions on the content which the students need to consider in advance of the seminars.

However, the manner in which the course is taught is entirely at the discretion of the university or college.  As an alternative to the above method, universities and colleges may prefer to teach the course materials in lectures.

If universities or colleges require written test questions to be completed by students, some of the questions contained in the Sections could be converted into questions requiring written answers rather than oral discussion. 

In order to teach this course, the course tutor will need to have a full understanding of the course material so as to be able to facilitate discussion on the material with students.  In addition, it would be preferable if the tutor had experience in the infrastructure sector as an understanding of the sector would be helpful in being able to facilitate discussion.  However, it is not necessary for the tutor to be an expert in corruption. 

Adapting the course

This course may be used by a university or college in its current format and content, or it may be adapted by a university or college so as to fit its requirements.  For example, the university or college may:

  • shorten or adapt the course by combining Sections and/or removing material
  • lengthen or adapt the course by subdividing the Sections and/or adding additional material
  • add material which is specific to the country in which the university or college is based, such as an analysis of local corruption laws, government regulations, and professional codes of conduct, and examples of local corruption cases
  • require students to undertake additional outside reading or research.

Conditions of use of the course materials

The materials contained in this course may be used and adapted by universities and colleges in whatever manner they wish, provided that they are used as part of their teaching curriculum.

GIACC does not charge any fee for the use of these materials.  GIACC provides these course materials free of charge to users as a public service in an attempt to raise awareness of corruption and to help in the prevention and detection of corruption worldwide. 

No consent is required from GIACC to use these materials.

The university or college using these materials may put their own name on the materials.  However, there should be the following acknowledgement in a suitably prominent location in the materials:

This course is based on materials provided pro bono by the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre (GIACC).

Obtaining the course materials

If your university or college wishes to consider providing the course to its students, and wishes to receive further information, or a copy of the course materials, please contact GIACC.

Updated on 6th April 2023