CSC8201 : The Challenge of Dependable Systems

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
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00Lecture follow-up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion240:3012:00Revision for end of semester exam & exam duration
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical121:0012:00Practicals
Guided Independent StudyProject work241:0024:00Coursework
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 it is important that the learning materials are supported by hands-on opportunities provided by practical classes. Students are expected to spend time on coursework outside timetabled practical classes.

Students aiming for 1st class marks are expected to widen their knowledge beyond the content of lecture notes through background reading.

Students should set aside sufficient time to revise for the end of semester exam.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A80N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M101000 word essay on analysis techniques
Report1M10Group work. 1,000 words max.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination is an appropriate way to assess knowledge of theoretical, including ethical, underpinnings and practical skills tested on small-scale problems. The coursework assessment gives a chance to assess practical skills on a more realistic and open-ended problem.

Study abroad students may request to take their exam before the semester 1 exam period, in which case the length of the exam may differ from that shown in MOFS.

N.B. This module has both “Exam Assessment” and “Other Assessment” (e.g. coursework). If the total mark for either assessment falls below 40%, the maximum mark returned for the module will normally be 40%.

Reading Lists