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This is an archived syllabus from 2019-2020

COMP23311 Software Engineering 1 syllabus 2019-2020

COMP23311 Software Engineering 1

Level 2
Credits: 10
Enrolled students: 264

Course leader: Suzanne Embury

Additional staff: view all staff


  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP16121
  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP16212

Additional requirements

  • Students who are not from the School of Computer Science must have permission from both Computer Science and their home School to enrol.

Assessment methods

  • 30% Written exam
  • 70% Practical skills assessment
Sem 1 TEAM STUDY Collab Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w1-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY 1.8 Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w1-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY G23 Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w1-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY LF31 Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w1-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY Tootill (0 + 1) Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w1-3,5,7-12 Lecture G23 Thu 09:00 - 11:00 F
Sem 1 w1-3,5,7-12 Lecture G23 Wed 09:00 - 11:00 H
Sem 1 w1-3,5,7-12 Lecture G23 Fri 11:00 - 13:00 G
Sem 1 w1 Lecture Simon TH B Mon 12:00 - 13:00 -
Sem 1 w2+ TEAM STUDY Collab Mon 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY 1.8 Mon 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY G23 Mon 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY LF31 Mon 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2-5,7-11 TEAM STUDY Tootill (0 + 1) Mon 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2 TEAM STUDY G41 Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2 TEAM STUDY LF5 Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2 TEAM STUDY LF6 Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2 TEAM STUDY LF8 Thu 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w4 Lecture Collab Wed 09:00 - 11:00 H
Sem 1 w4 Lecture Collab Thu 09:00 - 11:00 F
Sem 1 w4 Lecture Collab Fri 11:00 - 13:00 G
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Software Engineering
  • Agile Methods


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 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:

  1. Three 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.
  2. Two individual coursework exercises together contributing towards 10% of the mark for the course unit.
  3. A multiple choice examination, at the end of the semester.  This contributes towards 30% of the total course unit mark.



The following is an outline of the topics covered in COMP23111.

  • Team software development
  • Software project planning and issue tracking
  • Greenfield vs brownfield software development
  • Git best practices and common Git workflows
  • Automated build tools and release management
  • Automated unit, integration and acceptance testing
  • Test code quality and test coverage tools
  • Continuous integration and testing tools
  • Best practices and tool support for code review, including source code quality tools
  • Design patterns and common architectural patterns
  • Design for testability
  • Refactoring for code quality
  • Safely migrating software functionality
  • Basic risk management techniques
  • Working with open source software systems


Team coursework deadlines on 20th October 2017, 17th November 2017 and 8th December 2017. Marking interviews for the team coursework take place in weeks 5, 9 and 12. The whole team is expected to be present. Individual coursework to be submitted on Fridays (5pm) in week 5 and week 12.

Teaching methods

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).

Offline Study
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.

Feedback methods

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.

Study hours

  • Lectures (1 hours)
  • Practical classes & workshops (64 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Group/team working
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Leadership
  • Project management
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Written communication

Learning outcomes

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.

Reading list

Clean code : a handbook of agile software craftsmanship Martin, Robert C.9780132350884Prentice Hallc2009.
Pro Git Chacon, Scott. author.1484200764Apress2014
The pragmatic programmer : from journeyman to master Hunt, Andrew, 1964-020161622XAddison-Wesleyc2000.
Effective unit testing : a guide for Java developers Koskela, Lasse.9781935182573Manning2013
The clean coder : a code of conduct for professional programmers Martin, Robert C.0137081073Prentice Hall©2011.
Beginning software engineeringStephens, Rod, 1961- author.9781119209515Wrox, a Wiley Brand2015

Additional notes

Course unit materials

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