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LSCITS Training Programme: EngD Core Taught Modules

The LSCITS Engineering Doctorate (EngD) Programme requires REs to successfully complete a number of core taught modules, designed and delivered by senior faculty from the LSCITS Consortium universities of Bristol, Leeds, Oxford, St Andrews and York. Although centred in the York Department of Computer Science, the EngD also involves modules designed and delivered by the The York Management School. Here we give summary details of each of the EngD core modules, and then briefly introduce the remaining components of the EngD.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the main funding agency for Computer Science in the UK, has reserved £4m to support the LSCITS EngD. In addition to covering set-up and running costs, the EPSRC funds are intended to provide for 30 fully-funded LSCITS EngD studentships over the four intake years 2008-2011.

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2.1. Systems Engineering for LSCITS

This, the first module on the course, is an intensive one-week course intended to provide both a technical “flying start” and also some initial team-building among the REs. The module is intended to provide an overview of some of the key issues in developing and assuring large scale complex IT systems, especially covering requirements and architecture: the key elements of a Systems Engineering approach. It will also give a brief overview of other core modules, and it includes some orientation content to help familiarise the REs with the various academic facilities available at York. Sample texts include:

  • G. Kotonya & I. Sommerville (1998). Requirements Engineering Processes and Techniques. John Wiley.
  • J. McDermid (1992). Software Engineer’s Reference Book. Butterworth Heineman.
  • I. Sommerville (2007). Software Engineering (8th Edition). Addison-Wesley.

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2.2 Empirical Methods for LSCITS

As IT systems increase in scale and complexity, so there is a growing need for graduates with strong understanding of empirical techniques for analyzing and visualizing their structure and dynamics. Understanding and managing LSCITS requires well-developed skills for generating, summarising, comparing, and making informed decisions from multivariate data that may not be well modelled by standard distributions. This module aims to provide students with a broad but firm grounding in methods drawn from the literature on experiment design, data analysis, and visualisation; and furthermore to integrate this with recent findings from studies of the interplay between network topology, growth-history, and dynamics. Sample texts include:

  • J. Antony (2003). Design of Experiments for Engineers and Scientists. Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • J. Miller & S. Page (2007). Complex Adaptive Systems. Princeton University Press.
  • D. Watts (1999). Small Worlds: the Dynamics of Networks Between Order & Randomness. Princeton University Press.

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2.3 Predictable Software Systems

This module covers the main software systems modelling and verification techniques, and illustrates their usage with real-world examples studied and analysed with model-checking tools. The focus is on properties such as safety, dependability, resource usage, and performance. The content includes: reactive systems and their models; temporal logic; model checking and algorithms; modelling formalisms; verification of system properties; real-time model checking; probabilistic model checking; software verification; security and trust. Sample texts include:

  • B. Berard et al. (2001). Systems and Software Verification: Model Checking Techniques and Tools. Springer.
  • E. Clarke, O. Grumberg & D. Peled (2000). Model Checking. MIT Press.
  • M. Huth & M. Ryan (2004). Logic in Computer Science: Modelling and Reasoning About Systems. CUP.

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2.4 High-Integrity Systems Engineering

This module provides an overview of the challenges in developing high-integrity software systems; and of current processes for accreditation of security-critical systems and for certification of safety-critical systems. It also provides an understanding of the growing diversity of high-integrity systems on which commerce, transport, healthcare, etc. increasingly depends. It introduces techniques for achieving and assuring high-integrity software, and the approaches to justifying their safety and security. On completion of this module, students will have a firm appreciation of the growing societal dependence on high-integrity systems, and they will understand the state of the art in developing high-integrity systems and the risk factors and approaches to managing key risks. Sample texts include:

  • J. Barnes (2003). High Integrity Software: The SPARK Approach to Safety and Security. Addison Wesley.
  • J. McDermid et al. (2004). The Challenges of Complex IT Projects. Royal Academy of Engineering and the British Computer Society. ISBN 1-903496-15-2.
  • E. Hollnagel, D. Woods, & N. Leveson, editors (2006). Resilience Engineering: Concepts and Precepts. Ashgate.

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2.5 Socio-Technical Systems

This module requires students to investigate and understand the relationship between LSCITS and organisations. Other EngD core modules start with technological complexity and work outwards toward production processes and governance. This module starts with organizations and shows how IT solutions are produced by complex organisational processes – and, in the case of start-ups, by broader social and economic processes. On completion of this module, students should be able to understand the social and organizational reasons why projects go well or badly; understand that it is essential to identify and study salient features of organizational processes; understand and be able to use social research methods to study the creation and use of LSICTS in an organization setting; and understand the issues and problems of setting up workplace fieldwork. Sample texts include:

  • A. Crabtree (2003). Designing Collaborative Systems: A practical guide to ethnography. Springer.
  • P. Dunleavy et al. (2006). Digital Era Governance. Oxford University Press.
  • D. Vaughan (1997). The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA. University of Chicago Press.

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2.6 Technology Innovation

The subtitle of this module is Strategy, Management, and Commercialisation. It aims to provide students with a firm grounding in the legal, managerial, and financial aspects of innovative technology research for knowledge transfer and wealth creation. This module is intended to provide a grounding in the current practices of industry and commerce, and current thinking and research in schools of business and management. It has been custom-designed for the LSCITS programme and the industry-focused careers expected of its EngD Research Engineers. Sample texts include:

  • H. Chesbrough (2003). Open Innovation. Harvard Business School Press.
  • C. Perrow (1999). Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies. Princeton University Press.
  • S. Scotchmer (2006). Innovations and Incentives. MIT Press.

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