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Software engineering

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Designing, building and testing software systems can be a complicated process. This module aims to provide you with an understanding of software engineering concepts and a view of practical software development. It follows a disciplined approach to the development of software systems to meet specified requirements. You will become familiar with a wide range of techniques to support the dialogue between software engineers and an organisation’s stakeholders, and the work of the developers. You will also develop a good understanding of the different approaches to, and practices of, software development, including those followed by agile methods.

What you will study

Comparing traditional approaches with agile processes and practices, you will learn about well-known software development processes, their phases, activities and techniques. This will help you to develop a critical understanding of the diversity of contexts of organisations, problems, and development teams, which will allow you to use your own judgment in a real situation.

By studying this module you will:

  • be able to understand the business domain for a problem requiring a software solution or a change to an existing solution
  • acquire the tools and knowledge to analyse and design such a solution or change
  • understand how any chosen software architecture will impact on the satisfaction of all users requirements and expectations
  • be able to apply and reuse design expertise from a set of design patterns
  • develop the skills for testing outputs of all activities throughout the development process.

You will be equipped to apply your knowledge to the design of a wide range of software systems; from small systems in a single organisation (which still need to interact with a range of other services online) to those working in large-scale distributed environments based on coalitions of systems.

If you are considering progressing to The computing and IT project (TM470), this is one of the OU level 3 modules on which you could base your project topic. Normally, you should have completed one of these OU level 3 modules (or be currently studying one) before registering for the project module.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at levels 1 and 2. They are only intended for students with recent experience of higher education in a related subject.

To study this module you will need some basic knowledge of object-oriented concepts and programming, sufficient to follow the meaning of short passages of code written in the Java language.

You should also be able to:

  • use your computer to carry out tasks such as writing with a word-processor, saving and locating files, installing software and accessing a website
  • perform simple calculations
  • read and understand written English of a style and complexity characteristic of a professional magazine or quality newspaper
  • write clearly in English.

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

Preparatory work

Before the module starts you may find it helpful to look at the Strategic study techniques on our Skills for OU Study website.

What's included

Printed study texts, online study texts, website, and online forums.

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, 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 device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS 10.7 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. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. There will also be online tutorials and other collaborative activities, which will take place in your tutor group’s online forum. Throughout the module you can use this forum to keep in touch with your tutor and fellow students.

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 will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Some of the TMAs will involve your participation in a collaborative online exercise.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying TM354 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Software engineering (TM354) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2020.

Course work includes:

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

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