Software development

This module explores the principles and techniques of software development. You’ll acquire professional and technical skills with a deep understanding of analysis, design, software construction and testing; engage with various design practices from design patterns to software architectures and frameworks; and explore emerging themes in software development. By studying this module, you’ll develop your ability to deliver software artefacts fit for a real-world organisational context alongside a wide range of postgraduate skills.

Vocational relevance

By studying this module you will work towards a software system for an organisation with which you are familiar. As such you will be interacting with other people in that organisation and this may help to raise your professional profile.


M813 is a compulsory module in our:

M813 is an option module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

Taking a practice-based approach based on an organisation you are familiar with, this module gives you the fundamental knowledge and understanding, coupled with analysis and synthesis skills that you need to develop a variety of software artefacts fit for a real-world organisational context. You will also have an opportunity to investigate emerging trends in software development and acquire the personal development skills you will need to keep abreast of important developments in this rapidly changing field.

The module is structured as follows:

Block 1: Software development and early life-cycle

In this block you will learn the principles and techniques of early software lifecycle, from requirements and domain analysis to software specification. You will engage with a number of practices, including capturing and validating requirements, and UML (Unified Modelling Language) modelling with activity and class diagrams.

Block 2: Design and code

This block focuses on the principles and techniques of software design, construction, testing and version control. You will engage with a number of design practices, including applying design patterns and UML modelling with interaction and state diagrams. You will also engage in software construction and testing in Java.

Block 3: Software architectures and systems integration

In this block, you will extend the skills you acquired in the previous blocks to develop software solutions based on software architectures and frameworks. You will engage in design and Java development practices which make use of standards, software components and protocols. You will also expand your UML modelling toolset with package and component diagrams.

In the module assessment you will have an opportunity to engage with an organisational problem of your choice, working towards a fit-for-purpose software solution. You will also have an opportunity to carry out some independent research into issues in software development, including analysing, evaluating and presenting results.

This module is delivered entirely online and makes extensive use of a range of media and resources to support your learning.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Software development (M813) starts once a year – in May.

This page describes the module that will start in May 2025.

We expect it to start for the last time in May 2027.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

It is expected that you will hold a bachelors degree (or equivalent) in computing or a related discipline, or alternatively have at least three years relevant industry experience.

You should also have experience of object-oriented software development from previous study or professional work and an understanding of what UML is. A basic working knowledge of Java is expected and some Java coding tasks will be part of the assessment.

If this is your first postgraduate module, it is important for you to appreciate the substantial differences between undergraduate and postgraduate study. These differences are motivated by the need for masters-level education to prepare you to specialise, perhaps as a professional. At postgraduate level, you are expected to synthesise, review, reflect on and evaluate material. Because of this, postgraduate modules work from the leading edge of a topic, taking knowledge and understanding past that gained in an undergraduate study programme or professional practice. Independent study is also an important component and you will be expected to draw on resources beyond those provided by the module. This module includes materials that should assist you if you don’t already have these skills, or if your skills need polishing. In particular, preparatory materials and reflective questions in the assessment are there to help you develop the academic critical skills that will be needed in the end-of-module assessment (and eventually your final masters dissertation, should that be your goal).

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

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


Start End England fee Register
01 May 2025 Oct 2025 £1660.00

Registration closes 10/04/25 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2027.

Future availability

Software development (M813) starts once a year – in May.

This page describes the module that will start in May 2025.

We expect it to start for the last time in May 2027.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

This module is presented online – there are no printed materials.

All the study materials will be available from the module website, including:

  • details of how to download and install a Java Integrated Development Environment and UML modelling software1
  • all text units covering the core topics of the module
  • a wide range of activities to develop technical and professional skills
  • a number of pre-recorded screencasts covering specific software tools and techniques
  • access to the ebooks Head First Design Patterns and a wide range of library resources
  • module assessment.

1Visual Paradigm provides academic license of their UML tools, BPMN tools and agile development tools (story mapping) to students and lecturers of The Open University.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with the following:

  • OS: an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Processor: Intel Core (i5 or i7 recommended, 9th Gen or newer) / M1 or newer (for macOS)
  • Storage: 256GB SSD (512GB SSD recommended)
  • BIOS: support virtualisation

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The materials for this module are provided as a series of web pages via the module website. Some elements may not be fully accessible using a screen reader. Figure descriptions of any diagrams will be provided and written transcripts of any audio components will be available.

Other alternative formats of the study materials, such as EPUB and Kindle versions, may be available in the future. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer, or think you may have difficulty using the online material you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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