Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
For those students with Computer Science as a Major.
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   50%
Semester Assessment Course Work: Development of a business plan for a small business  50%
Supplementary Assessment Will take the same form, under the terms of the Department's policy.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will, in the context of a small software company, be able to:

  • critically assess the annual report and accounts (A1);
  • ensure that the company appreciates the health and safety implications of its activities and complies with health and safety legislation, both with regard to its own operations and with regard to its obligations to its clients (A2);
  • ensure that the company protects its own intellectual property appropriately and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of others (A1, A2);
  • present a business case for the company to invest in new tools or the development of a new product (A1);
  • apply professional codes of conduct to day-to-day situations that arise in business (A2).

Brief description

Employers of graduates in computing disciplines are unanimous in agreeing that such graduates should be familiar with a range of non-technical material, legal, financial, managerial and organisational, that is relevant to the industrial or commercial context in which the graduate will work. The Engineering Council also supports this view and requires that accredited courses should include such material and that it should be assessed.
Some material of this kind is taught at appropriate points in other modules at lower levels. The purpose of this module is to present material in the key areas of professionalism, finance, health and safety, and intellectual property in a more unified fashion, in the context of the software industry.


1. Organisations and their Structures
Limited companies, private and public; partnerships; sole traders. Special features of limited companies; responsibilities of directors.

2. Company Finance
The need for capital; investment and working capital; sources of funds; equity capital and loan capital. Cash flow and its importance. Costing: fixed costs and variable costs; overheads; opportunity costs; depreciation. Problems of cost allocation. Budgeting. Assessment of capital investment. Discounted cash flow analysis, with particular reference investment in software tolls and new product development. Financial accounts: balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, cash flow statements. The treatment of software in company accounts. Ownership of rights in software as goodwill.

3. Intellectual Property
The nature of intellectual property. The law relating to different types of intellectual property (confidential information, copyright, trade marks, patents) and the relevance of each type to the software industry.

4. Health and Safety
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other relevant statutory provisions. Human factors. Financial considerations.
Regulatory issues as they affect software systems: standards, certification and licensing, professional codes of practice, legal regulation. Liability: negligence and product liability; the Consumer Protection Act 1987; negligence. Is software a product?

5. The Engineering Profession
The structure of the engineering profession, both in the UK and abroad. Professional codes of conduct and codes of practice.

Reading List

Recommended Text
M.F. Bott, J.A. Coleman, J. Eaton, and D. Rowland (2001) Professional Issues in Software Engineering 3rd Ed. Taylor and Francis, London Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6