Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Available all semesters
Available only to students taking the Diploma/MSc in Computer Science scheme or the Diploma/MSc in Internet and Distributed Systems (Advanced) scheme.
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 Hours   written exam  50%
Semester Assessment 1 assignment: 2000 word essay based on students' own research  50%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary examination will take the same form, under the terms of the Department's policy.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. select appropriate procurement strategies, including contractual arrangements, and identify appropriate tenderers for substantial software procurements.

2. participate at a professional level in the preparation of invitations to tender and responses to such invitations.

3. critically assess the human resource strategy of a software company.

4. assess the effects of legislation relating to the engineering profession and professional codes of conduct, as they exist in different countries, on the operations of a software company.

5. identify and evaluate the different possible approaches to automating basic business processes in a specific environment.

6. be familiar with the main technologies that are currently in use for implementing e-commerce systems and assess their strengths and weaknesses.

7. assess the likely effect of prospective developments in technology and regulation on specific scenarios.

8. identify the security threats to which a specific e-commerce system is subject and select the most appropriate countermeasures.

9. be familiar with the various standards-making bodies and understand the importance of standards in e-commerce.


This module replaces the MSc module COM8220 by moving Internet technology material to COM5820 and COM5720 and inserting further e-commerce material from elsewhere. The module forms an essential part of the proposed new Internet and Distributed Systems (Advanced) MSc. It will also form part of the conversion MSC in Computer Science. E-commerce is an important topic to cover within an Internet and distributed systems MSc.

Brief description

The software industry is now one of the largest and most complex in the world. The individual players within it include companies of such size and complexity that they present unique problems of management. Software professionals who intends to rise to a senior management position in the industry must at least be aware of its structure and characteristics, how it functions and what its management problems are. They must also be aware of the way in which the industry as a whole and its individual practitioners are regulated. Nowhere is this more the case than in the field of e-commerce. The module uses e-commerce both as an area in which more general issues can be studied in a concrete fashion, and as an area which is important in its own right.


1. The Industry

The nature and characteristics of the software industry: broad and narrow definitions. Classification of the products of the industry. Treatment of software assets under different accounting regimes. Structure of the software industry: distribution by size, ownership, specialisation. The growth of outsourcing and its effect on the structure of the industry in different countries. Treatment of software in the calculation of GDP.

2. Procurement

Bespoke software v. packaged software. Identifying potential suppliers. Procurement strategies: study of a range of strategies used for procuring large systems by governments in different countries. Case studies of some major procurement failures. Problems occasioned by the need for long-term maintenance of large software systems.Contracts for the provision of bespoke software: fixed price, time and materials. Contracts for packaged software. Use of standard terms and conditions. The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.

3. Sales and Marketing

The distinction between sales and marketing.

Definitions of marketing. Marketing in the B2B context. SWOT analysis and the five factors theory. The marketing mix for bespoke system provision and for professional packages.

Sales management. Identification of prospects. Sales visits. Building long-term relationships. Sales proposals.

4. Regulation

Regulation of the engineering profession in the UK, the USA and continental Europe. The Washington Accord and the Bologna Declaration. Codes of conduct: the BCS code, the IEEE-CS/ACM joint code. Regulation of the industry. OFTEL and OFCOM and their roles. Safety-critical systems and their regulation. The Communications Act 2003, the Data Protection Acts 1984 and 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

5. E-Commerce Business Models

Business to consumer (B2C) models: portals, content providers, e-tailers, transaction brokers, market creators, service provoders, community services. Business to business (B2B) models: market place / exchange, e-distributor, application service provider, matchmaker, infomediary

6. B2B E-Commerce in Action

The basic business processes involved in B2B e-commerce. Early developments including electronic data interchange. Net market places and private industrial networks. Examples of recent successes and failures.

7. B2C E-Commerce

Retail e-commerce: the difficulties and the successes. Retail services on the web: financial services, travel, jobs. On-line auctions.

8. Relevant legal issues

Defamation and pornography on the Internet: legislation and the problems associated with it. Spam and the legal attempts to defeat it. The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002.

9. E-Commerce infrastructure

Intranets, extranets and internets; virtual private networks. The worldwide web; web servers. Content management software. Workflow management software. XML and SOAP.

10. Security

The threats to electronic transactions. Modern cryptography: public key and private key systems; the RSA algorithm and the DNS algorithm. Key management and secure exchange of keys; the Diffie-Hellman algorithm. Digital signatures and digital certificates. SSL and SET.
Reference Material

Much of the material covered by this module is not available in textbooks. Such textbooks as there are will usually be found to be out of date. Furthermore, they tend to concentrate on e-commerce directed towards consumers, whereas by far the majority of e-commerce systems are aimed at business-to-business transactions. Students will be expected to find information on the Web, where much more up to date material is available, although it must always be treated with caution. Given the caveats above, the books found in the bibliography section may prove useful:

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number No
Communication Not significant
Improving own Learning and Performance The assessed coursework requires students to develop their understanding of issues associated with the module
Information Technology Entire content of module
Personal Development and Career planning The module deals extensively with the structure of the software industry and hence gives students the opportunity to understand the range of employment possibilities
Problem solving The assignment addresses challenging issues concerned with the operation of the software industry and its use of communication technology
Research skills On-line web exploration and synthesis and application of relevant materials is required both by the assignment and the examination
Subject Specific Skills See learning outcomes
Team work No

Reading List

Recommended Text
Laudon, Kenneth C. and Traver, Carol Guercio (2002) E-Commerce: Business, Technology, Society Addison Wesley Primo search
Recommended Consultation
Chaffey, Dave (2002) E-Business Commerce Management Prentice Hall Primo search Frank Bott, Allison Coleman, Jack Eaton, and Diane Rowland (2001) Professional Issues in Software Engineering (This covers issues of professionalism, human resource management and, to some extent, procurement. A fourth edition is planned for 2005.) 3rd Taylor and Francis Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7