COMP23311 Software Engineering 1 syllabus 2021-2022
The development of software systems is a challenging process. Customers expect reliable and easy to use software to be developed within a set budget and to a tight deadline. As we come to depend upon software in so many aspects of our lives, its increasing size and complexity, together with more demanding users, means the consequences of failure are increasingly severe. The stakes for today’s software engineers are high!
Experience over the last decades has taught us that software development failures are rarely caused by small scale coding problems. Instead, failures result from the difficulties of writing software that customers actually need, of keeping up with constantly changing requirements, of coping with the scale of large developments, of getting many different people with very different skill sets to work together, and of working with large bodies of existing code that no one on your team may fully understand. Being a good coder is an important part of being a good software engineer, but there are many other skills - including soft skills - that are needed too.
In this course unit, you will get the chance to expand and broaden the programming skills you gained in your first year course units by applying them in a more realistic context than is possible in a small scale lab. Instead of coding from scratch, you will be working in a team to make changes to a large open source software system, consisting of thousands of classes and tens of thousands of files - and all without breaking the existing functionality.
You will fix bugs in the code base and add new features, as well as performing larger scale refactorings to maintain or improve on non-functionality properties of the system. You will perform all this using an industry strength tool set. We will complement the hands-on experience-based learning with an understanding of the core concepts underlying current notions of software engineering best practice. Volunteer mentors from local industry will help you to put your learning into context, and to understand the key importance of being not just a good coder, but a good software engineer.
This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact. Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.
This unit aims to help students appreciate the reality of team-based software development in an industrial environment, with customer needs, budget constraints and delivery schedules to be met. Through hands-on experience with an industry-strength development toolkit applied to a large open source software system, students will gain an appreciation of the challenges of green and brownfield software development, along with an understanding of the core software engineering concepts that underpin current best practice. Students will have the core skill set needed by a practicing software engineer, and will be ready to become productive and valuable members of any modern software team.
Assessment is based on:
- Two team-based exercises, making changes to the open source system used in the course unit. Together these contribute towards 60% of the total course unit mark.
- Two individual coursework exercises together contributing towards 10% of the mark for the course unit.
- A multiple choice examination, at the end of the semester. This contributes towards 30% of the total course unit mark.
See blackboard for details of coursework deadlines
1 introductory lecture in semester 1, week 1.
One 2 hour workshop each week. In these sessions, you will gain practical, hands-on experience of the techniques being taught.
Team Study Sessions
Two 1 hour sessions per week. In these sessions you will:
- Work with your team on the team coursework
- Meet your industrial mentor (2 sessions per team)
- Get your team coursework marked in a face-to-face interview (3 sessions per team).
A number of off-line study activities and readings are provided, that build on and consolidate the topics covered in workshops. These are compulsory and are assessed in the coursework and exam.
Staff and TAs will be on hand to provide face-to-face informal feedback during workshops and team study sessions.
The RoboTA system will provide continuous feedback on aspects of the team marking system, using the Jenkins continuous integration system.
TAs will also provide written and verbal feedback on coursework, once marking is complete.
- Lectures (1 hours)
- Practical classes & workshops (64 hours)
- Analytical skills
- Group/team working
- Project management
- Oral communication
- Problem solving
- Written communication
On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:
- make use of industry standard tools for version management, issue tracking, automated build, unit testing, code quality management, code review and continuous integration.
- write unit tests to reveal a bug or describe a new feature to be added to a system, using a test-first coding approach.
- explain the value of code reviews, and to write constructive and helpful reviews of code written by others.
- make use of basic Git workflows to coordinate parallel development on a code base and to maintain the quality of code scheduled for release.
- explain the role of software patterns (design and architectural) in creating large code bases that will be maintainable over the long term.
- explain why code that is easy to test is easy to maintain, and make use of test code smells in identifying and correcting design flaws (design for testability).
- apply basic software refactorings to maintain or improve code quality.
- explain the challenges inherent in cost estimation for software development, and create defensible estimates with the help of work breakdown structures.
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