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Current postgraduate taught students

COMP60421: Ontology Engineering for the Semantic Web (2012-2013)

This is an archived syllabus from 2012-2013

Ontology Engineering for the Semantic Web
Level: 6
Credit rating: 15
Pre-requisites: A knowledge of basic logic
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Lectures: 1 day per week (5 weeks)
Course Leader: Sean Bechhofer
Additional Lecturers: Bijan Parsia
Course leader: Sean Bechhofer

Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 1 P2 Lecture 2.19 Fri 09:00 - 13:00 -
Sem 1 P2 Lecture 2.19 Fri 14:00 - 16:00 -
Sem 1 P2 Lab 2.25abcd Fri 15:00 - 17:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 50%
Coursework: 50%
Lab: 0%

Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Advanced Web Technologies


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 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 OWL's development, and OWL plays a key role in many of its research programmes and industrial collaborations.

This module presents both the foundations and practice of developing and using OWL ontologies. The course is split roughly evenly between theoretical material on the description logics underlying OWL and practical work on developing ontologies using OWL. The course uses the latest version of the Prot?g?-OWL environment which has been developed in the Department and is now the de facto standard open-source environment for developing OWL ontologies.


The couse will provide students with a theoretical and practical understanding of leading edge solutions for the Semantic Web and for knowledge representation more generally. It will introduce students to description logics through the the new W3C standard Web Ontology Language, OWL. 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 applying OWL ontologies.

Programme outcomeUnit learning outcomesAssessment
G1Be able to discuss/explain the general principals of semantic networks, frames, rules.
  • Examination
G1 G2Be able to discuss/explain KR/ontology languages designed for the world wide web, in particular the new Web Ontology Language (OWL).
  • Examination
G1Understand the syntax, semantics and decision procedures for the famly of description logics which underpin OWL (A).
  • Examination
G1 G2Know the common ontological structures and principles of ontology development , have an appreciation of "why it's hard", and to be able to write critically about current work on the "Semantic Web".
  • Examination
G2 G3Be able to design and build ontologies in OWL using the de facto standard editor, Protege, justify and evaluate their design and explain their behaviour.
  • Lab assessment
  • Post-course work


The following topics will be covered in the course lectures

Introduction to the Semantic Web
Basics of knowledge representation and informal introduction to OWL
Description logics and classiers - the ALC family and its extensions
Practical issues in ontologies: Basic principles, normalisation and the "Ontoclean" methodology, upper ontologies,
Common problems in ontology development: parts and wholes, time, space, fundamental limitations.

Lab work

Introduction to Protege and OWL including advanced tutorial
Special problems of representation and reasoning in OWL
Differences between 'open world' reasoning in OWL and 'closed world' reasoning in databases and logic programming
Practical development project
Problem sets
Critique/comment on implemented ontologies on the Web