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This is an archived syllabus from 2019-2020

COMP62342 Ontology Engineering for the Semantic Web syllabus 2019-2020

COMP62342 Ontology Engineering for the Semantic Web

Level 6
Credits: 15
Enrolled students: 13

Course leader: Sean Bechhofer

Additional staff: view all staff

Additional requirements

  • Pre-requisites

    A knowledge of basic logic; Java programming

Assessment methods

  • 50% Written exam
  • 50% Coursework
Sem 2 P4 Lecture 2.15 Fri 09:00 - 13:00 -
Sem 2 P4 Lecture 2.15 Fri 14:00 - 15:00 -
Sem 2 P4 Lab 2.25B Fri 15:00 - 17:00 -
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Ontology Engineering and Automated Reasoning
  • Computer Science units for ACSwITM students (semester 2)


Knowledge representation and "ontologies" are critical to the development of the next generation Web - "The Semantic Web." Beyond the Semantic Web, semantically rich applications, ontologies and metadata are playing an increasing role in cutting edge applications. The W3C Web Ontology Language, OWL, is based on a prominent family of logics that has been developed for knowledge representation, “Description Logics”, and is now an established standard for developing and managing ontologies both for the Semantic Web and for other semantically rich applications. Manchester played a major role in developing Description Logics and OWL, and OWL plays a key role in many of its research programmes and industrial collaborations.

This unit presents both the logical foundations and practice of developing and using OWL ontologies. The course is split roughly evenly between theoretical material on ontology design and Description Logics, and practical work on developing ontologies using OWL and applications using the Java OWL-API. The course uses the Protege-OWL environment which has been developed in the School and is now the de facto standard open-source environment for developing OWL ontologies.


The unit will provide students with a theoretical and practical understanding of leading edge solutions for the Semantic Web. It will introduce students to the W3C standard Web Ontology Language, OWL, and its underlying Description Logics. It will provide students with experience using a set of established patterns for developing OWL ontologies and help them to learn to avoid the major pitfalls in using OWL. It will give them an opportunity to become familiar with a widely used environment for developing and an API for applying OWL ontologies, and making use of reasoning services accessible via both.



  • Introduction to Knowledge Representation and the Semantic Web
  • Introduction to the Web Ontology Language OWL
  • Description logics and classifiers
  • Description Logics Syntax, Semantics, and reasoning problems
  • Methods for developing and evaluating ontologies.
  • Common problems and patterns in ontology development
  • Application development using the OWL API

Lab work

  • Introduction to Protege and OWL including advanced tutorial
  • Special problems of representation and reasoning in OWL
  • Practical individual development project using Java
  • Critique/comment on implemented ontologies on the Web

Teaching methods

Lectures and workshops

1 day per week (5 weeks)

Feedback methods

* In-class tests and questionnaires to support students in monitoring their understanding.
* Weekly assignments via Blackboard.
* Weekly practical lab sessions with demonstrator assistance.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam (2 hours)
  • Lectures (20 hours)
  • Practical classes & workshops (15 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Research

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:

  • Explain the role of ontology languages in applications, in particular the W3C Recommendations OWL and SKOS;   
  • Describe the syntax and semantics of OWL along with its core reasoning problems;
  • Describe the decision procedures that underpin the use of reasoning in ontology languages;   
  • Create an ontology for a particular domain to enhance an application;   
  • Design and build ontologies in OWL using the de facto standard editor, Protege,
  • Design and implement a simple ontology-based system via the OWL API.
  • Apply patterns in the design of ontologies.   
  • Evaluate the design of ontologies through the application of competency questions.

Reading list

No reading list found for COMP62342.

Additional notes

Course unit materials

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.