Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Computer Science


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Not available in 2018/19 Module Cap
Tied to G5K209


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Security and Fault Tolerance (COMP51215).


  • The purpose of this module is to study the fundamental characteristics of software dependability in the context of system development, deployment and certification


  • Software dependability overview
  • Introduction to dependability
  • When technology fails
  • When humans fail
  • Risk, hazard analysis and safety cases
  • Argumentation
  • Security and fault tolerance
  • Threats from the internet

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Introduce the student to dependability issues in software development, and enhance the student's understanding of system failure and the implications for safety-critical and non-safety-critical systems
  • Present the student with a variety of modern techniques and methods for risk, hazard and argument analysis
  • Encourage the student to reflect on dependability issues for software development and distributed systems.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Assessing the role of dependability in system development and evaluation
  • Identifying and applying techniques and tools for risk, hazard and argument analysis
  • Critically evaluating dependability arguments and the contributing evidence
  • Exploring security considerations and influences on system dependability
Key Skills:
  • An awareness of dependability issues in the development and deployment of information technology
  • Improved communication skills through group exercises and group presentations
  • Improving own learning and performance by lecture directed readings, exercises and group activities
  • Problem solving skills through formative exercises allowing the students to reflect on the lecture material and practical work, particularly the construction of dependability/safety arguments

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lecturing provides specialist subject information and the application of the theory to practical examples. Problem classes through practicals provide assessment (both formative and summative) to guide students in the correct development of their knowledge and skills. Tutorials provide active engagement and feedback to the learning process.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 4 Second 2 weeks 2 hour 8
Lectures 6 First 2 weeks 2 hour 12
Preparation and Reading 130
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Coursework 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

A formative assignment will be given in the second week of the module (500-1000 words).

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University