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CSC8411 : The Challenge of Dependable Systems

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr John Mace
  • Owning School: Computing
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To introduce the concepts, principles and ethics of dependable systems, including: the notions of security, safety and reliability, the flaws that undermine dependability, the analyses that expose weaknesses, the techniques that can impart resilience, and the arguments that engender trust in a system.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Components, systems, interfaces, environments, and ethical issues:
trusted vs. trustworthy,
success vs. failure,
safe and secure and reliable.
2. Flaws and weaknesses:
physical deterioration and design inadequacy,
accidental misuse and malicious attack.
3. Concepts and terminology:
faults, errors, failures,
tolerance, resilience, reconfiguration.
4. Hazards and accidents:
safety analysis and integrity levels,
safety culture, management and life-cycle,
risk management and ALARP.
5. Dependability cases:
professional and legal aspects: the safety case and regulation,
arguments, evidence and goal structured notation (GSN),
fault models and hypotheses.
6. Developing critical software:
fault tolerance and self-healing,
interactive consistency,
design-fault tolerance,
testing in all its forms.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Lectures (20 lectures); Delivery mode: PiP or hybrid or online, in this order as circumstances allow
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion141:0014:00Reliable design analysis project work
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion141:0014:00Safety Analysis project work
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading201:0020:00Guidance through structured discussion; Delivery mode: PiP or hybrid or online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00PiP for guidance on project work
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study201:0020:00Project work
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study81:008:00Background reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will be used to introduce the learning material and for demonstrating the key concepts by example. Students are expected to follow-up lectures within a few days by re-reading and annotating lecture notes to aid deep learning.

This is a very practical subject, and therefore students are expected to read outside of taught materials (e.g., published papers) from the perspective of how dependability failures can occur and how they are also avoided through careful design in real-world systems.

Learning materials are supported by worked examples provided as class exercises. Students are expected to spend time on coursework outside scheduled activities.

Students aiming for Distinction-level marks are expected to widen their knowledge beyond the content of lecture notes through background reading.

Students should set aside sufficient time to read and understand the suggested literature before setting down to do the assessments.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M100Report 2000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MQuiz- Feedback prior to summative Assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Report gives an opportunity to assess practical skills on a more realistic and open-ended problem.

Reading Lists