Computers & Safety - COM00017M

« Back to module search

  • Department: Computer Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Richard Hawkins
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2016-17

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2016-17

Module aims

This course is primarily intended to give system safety engineers an introduction to the issues that must be considered when computers are used in safety-critical or safety-related applications. The course starts with a rapid overview of how computer systems work, from basic hardware components up to application software. The emphasis throughout this introduction is on highlighting areas that are of potential concern to safety engineers. This introduction is followed by a more in-depth examination of the software development process, considering especially aspects of requirements specification, design and analysis that are critical to deployment of computers in safety-critical applications. The course also considers the structuring and collection of evidence for the software safety case.

Module learning outcomes

  • Explain the issues presented by the use of software in safety-critical systems
  • Evaluate software development lifecycle models for safety
  • Describe the basic elements of a computer
  • Discuss the relationship between system and software requirements
  • Differentiate between "bottom-up" and "top-down" views of software assurance
  • Discuss the issues in communicating requirements from one discipline to another
  • Select and participate in the application of appropriate software safety analysis techniques
  • Describe the role and principles of software architecture in the design process
  • Identify the decisions relevant for safety in a software development process
  • Compare the approaches taken by software standards
  • Assess the appropriateness of software verification and analysis in a system safety argument
  • Describe the issues and potential approaches to incorporating software COTS into a safety-critical system
  • Discuss the state of the art and future directions in software safety


Task Length % of module mark
Open Assessment
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Open Assessment
N/A 100

Module feedback

Individual written feedback is provided via the online feedback system. There will be general feedback on the answers I was expecting and individual feedback on how well you did for each question.

Indicative reading

** J. Knight, Fundamentals of Dependable Computing for Software Engineers, Chapman and Hall/CRC, 2012

** N. G. Leveson, Safeware, Addison-Wesley, 1995

** J. Barnes, High Integrity Software: SPARK approach, Addison-Wesley, 2006

* A. Burns & A. Wellings, Real-time systems and programming languages 4th Ed, Addison-Wesley, 2009

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.