Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)


Department: Computer Science


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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Distributed systems, with their multiply-redundant components, offer the opportunity to achieve reliable operation which is tolerant to software and hardware faults. This is intimately connected with the problem of achieving security properties in distributed and internet applications. The module presents a thoroughly up to date treatment of these key topics.


  • Software security vulnerabilities
  • Designing and engineering secure systems
  • E-commerce systems security
  • Mobile code and malicious attacks
  • Security in mobile e-commerce and privacy online
  • Concepts and definitions of fault tolerance in distributed systems
  • Basic building blocks of fault-tolerant distributed systems
  • Reliable, atomic and causal broadcast
  • Consistency and replication
  • From fault tolerance to attack tolerance
  • Laboratory assignment: designing and implementing a secure and fault-tolerant mobile code system for a simple e-commerce application

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Specialist knowledge: fault tolerance principles and practical techniques; evaluation; security and secure architectures; system structuring principles
  • Practical design skills: designing and engineering secure systems; designing and implementing a secure and FT system
  • Management: weak links and security issues in e-commerce
  • Design integration: basic building blocks for security and fault tolerance; the module project
  • Engineering of software systems: engineering of secure and fault tolerance systems; software reliability engineering
  • Professional skills: non functional attributes (reliability and security) as properties of professional distributed systems
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      • The module comprises 1 week's intensive directed reading and laboratory exercises; 5 days of lectures, tutorials, and reading, and two weeks undertaking a major laboratory assignment. The overall workload conforms to the standard SLAT requirement of 150 hours equivalent to 15 credits.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 10 2 per day in week 2 1 hour 10
      Tutorials 8 2 weekly 1 hour 8
      Practicals 5 daily in week 1 6 hours 30
      Laboratory 10 daily in weeks 3 and 4 6 hous 60
      Preparation and Reading 32
      Total 150

      Summative Assessment

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

      Formative Assessment:

      Staged written feedback of laboratory and practical work by staff/demonstrators.

      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