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Software engineering

This online module explores the advanced concepts and techniques used throughout the software life cycle, for the effective production and management of large, complex, and long-lived software systems. It provides a holistic perspective of technical and non-technical factors involved in developing useful and safe software systems in complex social and organisational contexts. You will gain hands-on experience of software engineering practices, in both individual and team-working contexts. To study this module you will need to have completed Software development (M813), or have equivalent professional software development knowledge.

Vocational relevance

This module is particularly appropriate if you are working professionally with software (either directly or indirectly) as a developer, as a user or in a management capacity – for example if you are a:

  • developer or user of software who wishes to move into a managerial role
  • manager or supervisor of software development or software maintenance teams
  • manager of business processes that are supported by software
  • researcher interested in the processes of software production and deployment
  • professional from another discipline who want to move into a software-related occupation
  • or if you have a software-related professional background and are interested in software engineering.

Qualifications

M814 is a compulsory module in our:

M814 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards M03, which is no longer available to new students.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.

Module

Module code
M814
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
30
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
FHEQ 7
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

Computers are now such an integral part of most organisations and they are critically dependent on the software. You will study how complex software systems fit into organisations, from procurement to maintenance and development. You will also gain an understanding of the business context of any proposed software, in order to elicit and analyse software requirements.

The module is divided into four blocks.

Block 1: Software in context

The first block considers that working in an organisation involves working with software, and how it is important to understand the relationships between the software, the organisation it serves, and its wider environment or context. Software embodies part of the knowledge of the organisation and enables other knowledge management processes. Contacts between the enterprise and the external world are often mediated by software, and the enterprise has a responsibility to the wider community that may be served by, or jeopardised by, this software. This wider community is also discussed, including, the professional bodies and trade unions to which the employees may belong, with their codes of ethics; the standardisation bodies, with their standards; and the law, which may restrict or mandate particular practices.

Block 2: Software engineering process

In Block 2 you’ll investigate the various approaches to software engineering. Software systems may be ‘bespoke’ (whether in-house, outsourced or offshored), or acquired off the shelf as either a complete solution that is used ‘as is’ or with some limited customisation, or as a number of partial solutions that need to be integrated. Within these options, the process of software development is considered and approaches ranging from waterfall to agile methodologies are discussed. This part also considers the management processes that play an important role in software engineering. In particular you will learn techniques for estimating the cost of the software and scheduling its development or adaptation in the context of available personnel. Additionally, you will cover issues of risk management associated with software engineering, as well as the important area of software quality assurance.

Block 3: Software evolution

Block 3 examines the pressures on organisations, the software and their environments to adapt to change. In particular, you’ll explore how these pressures lead to the maintenance process and to the challenges of continual software ‘evolution’.

Block 4: Requirements engineering

In the final block you will cover the essential principles and practices of requirements engineering. This includes techniques for eliciting requirements for real world business problems; identifying the stakeholders of a business problem and its solution, and understand how to manage stakeholder conflicts; specifying requirements and determining the qualities of a set of requirements and making them measureable; and communicating a set of requirements to a variety of stakeholders. Additionally, this part will explore the connection between requirements engineering and design, as well as situating the requirements engineering process and outputs within the context of the software engineering processes presented in the previous parts of the module.

During the module, you will have an opportunity to use a number of different software engineering tools, including process simulation tools, configuration management systems and requirements recording tools to address the software engineering challenges associated with realistic business problems. While some of these activities will be undertaken individually, there will also be elements that involve you working with others to produce a requirements specification.

This module is delivered entirely online and makes extensive use of a range of media and resources to support your learning.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will be responsible for monitoring your progress on the module, marking and commenting on your written work and whom you can contact for advice and guidance.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Professional recognition

Application for recognition will be made to the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT for exemption from some of its membership requirements for holders of an appropriate MSc in Computing.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

Software engineering (M814) starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2019.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    It is expected that you will hold a bachelors degree (or equivalent) in computing or a related discipline, or alternatively have at least three years relevant industry experience.

    You will also need to have completed Software development (M813) prior to this module, or have equivalent professional software development knowledge.

    Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Outside the UK

    The module is based on universally adopted software development principles, techniques, practices and tools. 

    Register

    Start End Fee Register
    01 Nov 2019 Apr 2020 Not yet available

    Registration closes 10/10/19 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    November 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Software engineering (M814) starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2019.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Study materials

    What's included

    This module is presented online – there are no printed materials.

    All the study materials will be available from the module website, including:

    • details of how to access, download and install the recommended software
    • all text units covering the core topics of the module
    • a wide range of activities to develop technical and professional skills
    • self-evaluation quizzes
    • access to the eBook Mastering the requirements process and a wide range of library resources
    • assessment.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided from a hardware device e.g. DVD drive or USB stick or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The materials for this module are provided as a series of web pages via the module website. Some elements may not be fully accessible using a screen reader (mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Figure descriptions of any diagrams will be provided and written transcripts of any audio components will be available.

    Other alternative formats of the study materials, such as E-pub and Kindle versions, may be available in the future. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer, or think you may have difficulty using the online material you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs. 

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.