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Professor Marian Petre

Professor Marian Petre

Profile summary

  • Visiting Formal Academic
  • Emeritus Professor
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • m.petre

Research interests

Marian Petre is interested in expertise in software design. Her interdisciplinary research draws on cognitive theory and qualitative research methods to analyze how expert software designers behave and reason when solving design problems. Her research is grounded in empirical studies of actual professional practice in industry.  She has investigated software design from a number of different perspectives, including: cognitive dimensions of notations, a whiteboard tool for design, programming paradigms, graphical and textual notations, software visualisation, disciplines of innovation, and how designers learn effective strategies.  Most recently, she has been studying the integration of software engineering practices into computational science.

Her current projects include:​

•   EPSRC:  Secure, adaptive, usable software engineering (SAUSE)

•   EPSRC:  Why Johnny doesn't write secure software?  Secure software development by the masses

•   Mozilla:  'Design talk' workshops

Her past projects include:

•   PLOS/Mozilla scientific code review studies

•   NSF: Studying Professional Software Design

•   Royal Society/Wolfson: Empirical studies of expert design

•   Wolfson: Open Science Laboratory

Teaching interests

Most of Marian’s teaching has focused on developing research skills and promoting understanding of the Ph.D. process. Her emphasis is on identifying and articulating strategies and knowledge that others take for granted, and on translating research findings into conceptual direction and focus for teaching.  For example, she and Gordon Rugg co-authored ‘The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research’ and ‘A Gentle Guide to Research Methods’.

TM356:  Interaction design and the user experience

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
CRC: Human Centred ComputingCentreFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology
CRC: Software Engineering and DesignGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology
Empirical Studies of Software DevelopmentGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology


Externally funded projects

Why Johnny doesn’t write secure software? Secure Software Development by the Masses

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Co-investigator01/Jan/201731/Dec/2019EPSRC EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Developing software is no longer the domain of the select few with deep technical skills, training and knowledge. Mobile and web app development and easy to program hardware devices, such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi, have resulted in a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds developing software. Such software can be, and is, used by a potentially global user base. But what are the security implications of such software development by ‘the masses’. Are we moving toward a ‘wild west’ in which a diversity of skills and motives in those developing software will affect its security? This diversity of developers is here to stay and is at the heart of a range of innovations in the digital economy. However, little is currently understood about the security behaviours and decision-making processes of the masses – Johnny – engaging in software development. Without such foundational understanding, we cannot hope to leverage a hitherto untapped resource, Johnny, in developing resilient software that is used by millions around the world. From this foundation, we can consider the implications of their assumptions and design choices and provide new tools and techniques to support them. Such foundational research and advances are the focus of this proposal.


Exploring design principles for data literacy activities to support children’s inquiries from complex data (2019-09)
Wolff, Annika; Wermelinger, Michel and Petre, Marian
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 129 (pp. 41-54)
Supporting urban change: using a MOOC to facilitate attitudinal learning and participation in smart cities (2019-02)
Hudson, Lorraine; Wolff, Annika; Gooch, Daniel; van der Linden, Janet; Kortuem, Gerd; Petre, Marian; ten Veen, Rianne and O'Connor-Gotra, Sinead
Computers & Education, 129 (pp. 37-47)
Fifty years of the Psychology of Programming (2019)
Blackwell, Alan F.; Petre, Marian and Church, Luke
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies ((Early Access))
Amplifying Quiet Voices: Challenges and Opportunities for Participatory Design at an Urban Scale (2018-02-24)
Gooch, Daniel; Barker, Matthew; Hudson, Lorraine; Kelly, Ryan; Kortuem, Gerd; van der Linden, Janet; Petre, Marian; Brown, Rebecca; Klis-Davies, Anna; Forbes, Hannah; MacKinnon, Jessica; Macpherson, Robbie and Walton, Clare
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 25, Article 2(1)
Beyond coding: toward software development expertise (2018)
Petre, Marian and van der Hoek, André
XRDS: Crossroads, The ACM Magazine for Students, 25(1) (pp. 22-26)
The future of e-infrastructures (2015-05-01)
Segal, Judith; Petre, Marian and Sharp, Helen
Computing in Science & Engineering, 17(3) (pp. 78-84)
How software designers interact with sketches at the whiteboard (2015-02-04)
Mangano, N.; LaToza, T.; Petre, M. and van der Hoek, A.
IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 41(2) (pp. 135-156)
Crowdsourcing scientific software documentation: a case study of the NumPy documentation project (2015-02)
Pawlik, Aleksandra; Segal, Judith; Petre, Marian and Sharp, Helen
Computing in Science & Engineering, 17(1) (pp. 28-36)
Wearables: has the age of smartwatches finally arrived? (2015-01)
Rawassizadeh, Reza; Price, Blaine A. and Petre, Marian
Communications of the ACM, 58(1) (pp. 45-47)
‘No shit’ or ‘Oh, shit!’: responses to observations on the use of UML in professional practice (2014-10)
Petre, Marian
Software and Systems Modeling, 13(4) (pp. 1225-1235)
Educating the Internet-of-Things generation (2013-02)
Kortuem, Gerd; Bandara, Arosha; Smith, Neil; Richards, Michael and Petre, Marian
Computer, 46(2) (pp. 53-61)
An empirical study of the “prototype walkthrough”: a studio-based activity for HCI education (2012-12)
Hundhausen, C. D.; Fairbrother, D. and Petre, M.
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 19, Article 26(4)
Studying professional software design (2012-01)
Baker, Alex; Van Der Hoek, André; Ossher, Harold and Petre, Marian
IEEE Software, 29(1) (pp. 28-33)
Editorial (2010-11)
Petre, Marian; van der Hoek, André and Baker, Alex
Design Studies, 31(6) (pp. 533-544)
Mental imagery and software visualization in high-performance software development teams (2010)
Petre, Marian
Journal of Visual Languages & Computing, 21(3) (pp. 171-183)
The role of physical artefacts in agile software development: Two complementary perspectives (2009-01)
Sharp, Helen; Robinson, Hugh and Petre, Marian
Interacting with Computers, 21(1-2) (pp. 108-116)
Using wikis to simulate distributed requirements development in a software engineering course (2008)
Minocha, Shailey; Petre, Marian and Roberts, Dave
International Journal of Engineering Education, 24(4) (pp. 689-704)
Seeing the whole picture: evaluating automated assessment systems (2007-10)
Haley, Debra; Thomas, Pete; De Roeck, Anne and Petre, Marian
Innovation in Teaching And Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, 6(4) (pp. 203-224)
Cognitive dimensions 'beyond the notation' (2006-08)
Petre, Marian
Journal of Visual Languages & Computing, 17(4) (pp. 292-301)
Usability beyond the website: an empirically-grounded e-commerce evaluation instrument for the total customer experience (2006-04)
Petre, Marian; Minocha, Shailey and Roberts, Dave
Behaviour & Information Technology, 25(2) (pp. 189-203)
Complexity through combination: an account of knitwear design (2006-03)
Sharp, Helen; Petre, Marian and Johnson, Jeffrey
Design Studies, 27(2) (pp. 183-222)
Combining eye tracking and conventional techniques for indications of user-adaptability (2005)
Tzanidou, Ekaterini; Petre, Marian; Minocha, Shailey and Grayson, Andrew
Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 3585 (pp. 753-766)
How expert engineering teams use disciplines of innovation (2004-09)
Petre, Marian
Design Studies, 25(5) (pp. 477-493)
Team coordination through externalised mental imagery (2004-08)
Petre, Marian
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 61(2) (pp. 205-218)
Using robotics to motivate 'back door' learning (2004-06)
Petre, Marian and Price, Blaine
Education and Information Technologies, 9(2) (pp. 147-158)
Developing Robotics e-teaching for teamwork (2003)
Price, Blaine A.; Richards, Mike; Petre, Marian; Hirst, Anthony and Johnson, Jeffrey
International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-long Learning, 13(1-2) (pp. 190-205)
Computer-based practical work at a distance: a case study (1994-01)
Jones, Ann and Petre, Marian
Computers and Education, 22(1-2) (pp. 27-37)
Software Designers in Action: A Human-Centric Look at Design Work (2013-09-10)
Van Der Hoek, Andre and Petre, Marian
Chapman & Hall/CRC Innovations in Software Engineering and Software Development Series
ISBN : 978-1-46-650109-6 | Publisher : Chapman and Hall/CRC | Published : Abingdon
Credibility, or why should I insist on being convinced? (2011-10)
Prechett, Lutz and Petre, Marian
In: Oram, Adam and Wilson, Greg eds. Making Software: What Really Works, and Why We Believe It (pp. 17-34)
ISBN : 978-0-596-80832-7 | Publisher : O'Reilly Media | Published : Sebastapol, CA
Revisiting web design guidelines by exploring users' expectations, preferences and visual search behaviour (2006)
Tzanidou, E.; Minocha, S.; Petre, M. and Grayson, A.
In: McEwan, T.; Gulliksen, J. and Benyon, D. eds. People and Computers XIX — The Bigger Picture(3) (pp. 421-438)
ISBN : 978-1-84628-192-1 | Publisher : Springer | Published : London, UK
Lessons from Experts (2019-07-02)
Petre, Marian
In : 2019 ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (15-17 Jul 2019, Aberdeen, Scotland) (p 331)
Mining a MOOC to examine international views of the “Smart City” (2018-06-28)
Gooch, Daniel; Hudson, Lorraine; Barker, Matthew; Wolff, Annika and Petre, Marian
In : Proceedings of the 2017 IEEE First International Conference on Smart City Innovations (SCI 2017) (4-8 Aug 2017, California, USA)
Weaving Lighthouses and Stitching Stories: Blind and Visually Impaired People Designing E-textiles (2018-04-21)
Giles, Emilie; van der Linden, Janet and Petre, Marian
In : CHI'18 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (21-26 Apr 2018, Montreal, Canada)
Creating a Datascape: a game to support communities in using open data (2017-06-26)
Wolff, Annika; Barker, Matthew and Petre, Marian
In : 8th international conference on Communities and Technologies (26-30 Jun 2017, Troyes, France) (pp. 135-138)
Pixels or plasticine: evoking curiosity to engage children with data (2017-05)
Wolff, Annika; Petre, Marian and van der Linden, Janet
In : Designing for Curiosity workshop at CHI 2017 (7 May 2017, Denver, Colorado)
Examining Active Error in Software Development (2016-11-10)
Lopez, Tamara; Petre, Marian and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : 2016 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC) (4-8 Sep 2016, Cambridge, UK) (pp. 152-156)
Civic crowdfunding: how do offline communities engage online? (2015-07-13)
Stiver, Alexandra; Barroca, Leonor; Petre, Marian; Richards, Michael and Roberts, Dave
In : British HCI Conference (13-17 Jul 2015, Lincoln) (pp. 37-45)
Digital technologies for doctoral dialogues at a distance (2014-10-25)
Petre, Marian; Minocha, Shailey and Barroca, Leonor
In : 2014 IEEE Frontiers in Education: Opening doors to Innovation and Internationalization in Engineering Education Conference (22-25 Oct 2014, Madrid, Spain) (pp. 2432-2439)
Code review for and by scientists: preliminary findings (2014-09-09)
Petre, Marian and Wilson, Greg
In : 2nd Workshop on Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences (WSSSPE2) (16 Nov 2014, New Orleans, LA, USA)
Supporting informal design with interactive whiteboards (2014-04-26)
Mangano, Nicolas; LaToza, Thomas D.; Petre, Marian and van der Hoek, André
In : CHI '14 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (26 Apr - 1 May 2014, Toronto, Canada) (pp. 331-340)
Methodology and culture: drivers of mediocrity in software engineering? (2014)
Petre, Marian and Damian, Daniela
In : 22nd ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering (16-21 Nov 2014, Hong Kong) (pp. 829-832)
UML in practice (2013-05)
Petre, Marian
In : 35th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2013) (18-26 May 2013, San Francisco, CA, USA) (pp. 722-731)
Intentacles: wearable interactive antennae to sense and express emotion (2013-04-27)
Petre, Marian; Bowers, David; Baker, Thomas; Copcutt, Ed; Lawson, Adam; Martindale, Adam; Moses, Ben and Yan, Yige
In : ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2013 Apr 27 - May 02, Paris, France) (pp. 2861-2862)
Older people and online social interactions: an empirical investigation (2013-03-20)
Hartnett, Elizabeth; Minocha, Shailey; Palmer, Jane; Petre, Marian; Evans, Shirley; Middup, Christopher Paul; Dunn, Kathryn; Murphy, Brendan; Heap, Tania and Roberts, Dave
In : The UKAIS International Conference on Information Systems (UKAIS) (18-20 Mar 2013, Worcester College, University of Oxford)
Getting at ephemeral flaws (2012-06)
Lopez, Tamara; Petre, Marian and Nuseibeh, Bashar
In : Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering (CHASE), 2012 5th International Workshop on (2 Jun 2012, Zurich)
Starting with Ubicomp: using the SenseBoard to introduce computing (2012-02-29)
Richards, Michael; Petre, Marian and Bandara, Arosha
In : 43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (29 Feb - 3 Mar 2012, Raleigh, NC)
Instructional strategies in the EGRET course: an international graduate forum on becoming a researcher (2012)
Damian, Daniela; Petre, Marian; Miller, Mariel and Hadwin, Allyson F.
In : WCCCE '12 17th Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education (4-5 May 2012, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
The mystery of the writing that isn’t on the wall: differences in public representations in traditional and agile software development (2012)
Petre, Marian; Sharp, Helen and Freudenberg, Sallyann
In : 5th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering (CHASE 2012) (2-9 Jun 2012, Zurich, Switzerland)
Software engineers’ perceptions of factors in motivation (2011-09-22)
Sach, Rien; Sharp, Helen and Petre, Marian
In : 5th International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement, ESEM 2011 (22-23 Sep 2011, Banff, Alberta, Canada)
What makes software engineers go that extra mile? (2011-09-07)
Sach, Rien; Sharp, Helen and Petre, Marian
In : 23rd Annual Psychology of Programming Interest Group 2011 (6-8 Sep 2011, York, UK)
Miki: a wiki for synchronous modeling of software requirements (2011)
Yu, Yijun; Petre, Marian and Tun, Thein Than
In : 4th FlexiTools workshop @ ICSE 2011 (22 May 2011, Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii)
The "prototype walkthrough": a studio-based learning activity for human-computer interaction courses (2011)
Hundhausen, Christopher; Fairbrother, Dana and Petre, Marian
In : ICER: 7th International Computing Education Research Workshop (8-9 Aug 2011, Providence, RI, USA)
Developing research degrees online (2010-11)
Barroca, Leonor; Rapanotti, Lucia; Petre, Marian; Vargas-Vera, Maria and Reeves, Ahmad
In : International Conference on Education, Research and Innovation (15-17 Nov 2010, Madrid, Spain)
The use of MBTI in software engineering (2010-09-22)
Sach, Rien; Petre, Marian and Sharp, Helen
In : 22nd Annual Psychology of Programming Interest Group 2010 (19-22 Sep 2010, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
Continued Involvement in Software Development: Motivational Factors (2010-09-17)
Sach, Rien; Sharp, Helen and Petre, Marian
In : The 2010 ACM-IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (16-17 Sep 2010, Bolzano, Italy) (pp. 331-334)
The “prototype walkthrough”: a studio-based learning activity for the next generation of HCI education (2010)
Hundhausenm, Christopher; Fairbrother, Dana and Petre, Marian
In : Next Generation of HCI and Education: CHI 2010 Workshop on UI Technologies and Educational Pedagogy (11 Apr 2010, Atlanta, GA)
Insights from expert software design practice (2009-08)
Petre, Marian
In : 7th joint meeting of the European Software Engineering Conference (ESEC) and the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) (24-28 Aug 2009, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) (pp. 233-242)
Human fallibility: How well do human markers agree? (2009)
Haley, Debra; Thomas, Pete; Petre, Marian and De Roeck, Anne
In : The Eleventh Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2009) (20-23 Jan 2009, Wellington, New Zealand)
The effectiveness of t-way test data generation (2008)
Ellims, Mike; Ince, Darrel and Petre, Marian
In : Computer Safety, Reliability, and Security: 27th International Conference, SAFECOMP 2008, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (22-25 Sep 2008, Berlin)
Children as unwitting end-user programmers (2007-09)
Petre, Marian and Blackwell, Alan
In : IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (23-27 Sep 2007, Coeur d'Alène, Idaho)
Computing word-of-mouth trust relationships in social networks from Semantic Web and Web 2.0 data sources (2007)
Heath, Tom; Motta, Enrico and Petre, Marian
In : The 4th European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC 2007) (3-7Jun e2007, Innsbruck, Austria)
Measuring improvement in latent semantic analysis-based marking systems: using a computer to mark questions about HTML (2007)
Haley, Debra; Thomas, Pete; De Roeck, Anne and Petre, Marian
In : ACM 9th International Australasian Computing Education Conference (30 Jan - 02 Feb 2007, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia)
Evaluating e-commerce environments: approaches to cross-disciplinary investigation (2006-04-25)
Minocha, Shailey; Petre, Marian; Tzanidou, Ekaterini; van Dijk, Geke; Roberts, Dave; Gassman, Nick; Millard, Nicola; Day, Barry and Travis, David
In : Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (22-27 Apr 2006, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) (p 1121)
Person to person trust factors in word of mouth recommendation (2006)
Heath, Thomas; Motta, Enrico and Petre, Marian
In : Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'06) (22-27 Apr 2006, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Combining Eye Tracking and Conventional Techniques for Indications of User-Adaptability (2005-09)
Petre, Marian; Tzanidou, Ekaterini; Minocha, Shailey and Grayson, Andrew
In : Proceedings of Interact 2005 (12-16 Sep, Rome) (pp. 753-766)
Mental imagery, visualisation tools and team work (2002-06)
Petre, Marian
In : Proceedings of the Second Program Visualization Workshop (27-28 Jun, Denmark) (pp. 3-14)
Teaching programming through paperless assignments: an empirical evaluation of instructor feedback (1997-09)
Price, Blaine and Petre, Marian
In : 2nd Conference on Integrating Technology into Computer Science Education (ITiCSE '97) (1-5 Jun 1997, Uppsala, Sweden) (pp. 94-99)
Shifts in reasoning about software and hardware systems: do operational models underpin declarative ones? (1991)
Petre, Marian
In : Psychology of Programming Interest Group (3-5 Jan 1991, Hatfield)
Handbook of Social Media for Researchers and Supervisors (2012-08-31)
Minocha, Shailey and Petre, Marian
The Open University
The interactive punching bag (2012-05-05)
Petre, Marian; Baines, Chris; Baker, Michael; Copcutt, Ed; Martindale, Adam; Matharu, Taranjit and Petre Eastty, Max