Skip to main content


CSC8201 : The Challenge of Dependable Systems (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Paul Ezhilchelvan
  • Lecturer: Dr Stephen Riddle
  • 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.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion141:0014:00Safety Analysis project work
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion141:0014:00Reliable design analysis project work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Lectures (20). Delivery mode: PiP or hybrid or online, in this order as circumstances allow
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading201:0020:00Guidance through structured discussion. Delivery: PiP or hybrid or online, as circumstances allow.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00PiP for guidance on project work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Support for project work & research. Delivery: PiP or hybrid or online, in this order as allowed
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study201:0020:00Project work
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
Report1M50Safety Report 1b: 3500 word (max)
Report1M50Reliability Report 1a: 3500 words (max).
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises1MPast Assessment Papers; Feedback returned to students prior to summative ones.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The project work assessments assess knowledge of theoretical, including ethical, underpinnings and practical skills on selected, realistic and open-ended problems. They also seek to expose the students to the link between theory and practice and the importance of conceptual underpinnings in building dependable systems.

Reading Lists