Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Systems Engineering
Academic Year
Semester 1
CS26020 or PH24520 One or other of these.
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Written design study including laboratory practical write up  (4000 word plus formal design diagrams)  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Semester Examination  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Supplementary Examination  Supplementary Examination - 100% of assessment  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Display an understanding of the processes and tools required throughout the engineered system lifecycle.

2. Be able to decompose a product requirement, investigate alternative designs and analyze their characteristics using a variety of systems engineering techniques.

3. Be able to design and analyze the performance and reliability characteristics of a software based embedded control system.

4. Have a critical understanding of the interaction and tradeoff between software and hardware elements of a (mechatronic) system.

5. Be able to display an appreciation of the characteristics of traditional and novel approaches to systems control afforded by the presence of software.

Brief description

System engineering is a creative but rigorous and analytical discovery process and this module will consider the processes and tools required throughout the product lifecycle with particular emphasis on software controlled mechatronic systems. The module will consider the 7 steps in the INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering) SIMILAR process: State the problem, Investigate alternatives, Model the system, Integrate, Launch the system, Assess performance, and Re-evaluate. Within these aspects the module will include cross domain modelling and analysis techniques aimed at the development of systems that contain significant software elements. The module will address non-functional requirements including safety, quality and complexity.


1. The Systems Engineering Process Overview (INCOSE)
a. Quality management systems and standards
b. Process and management tools; Managing product and project complexity

2. The product life cycle
a. Requirements engineering:
Functional decomposition/reasoning, functional flow diagrams, process charts, design synthesis, decomposition and COTS components.
Value Analysis including tear-down, trade studies.

b. Modelling and simulation
State based, Continuous and Hybrid systems concepts
Modelling Systems and Software for example SysML
Model based reasoning using quantitative and qualitative approaches

c. Reliability and maintainability
Standards e.g. IEC 61508; Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis; Fault Tree Analysis; Reliability Block Diagrams; Life Data Analysis concepts (Weibull Analysis) MTBF/MTTR; Current software analysis tool capability;

d. Diagnosis, Diagnosability, Prognosis
On-board and workshop requirements; Sensing and observation cost and complexity trade-offs; Model based and other approaches.

e. System integration, security and performance analysis

3. Software at the heart of the system
a. Real and near-real time software and operating systems characteristics
b. Multi-level and networked architectures
Data networks; bus architectures; inter device communication;
c. Control of highly nonlinear and complex systems
AI Toolbox methods overview and their characteristics; Fuzzy logic; Expert Systems; Case Based Reasoning; Neural Networks.

4. In depth worked example
An example real embedded control system will be studied in detail from concept to implementation and maintenance providing insight to each part of the process, the stakeholders, tools and processes involved.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number None beyond that required for systems analysis.
Communication Written communication will be used in developing the laboratory reports.
Improving own Learning and Performance Laboratory writeups and report will promote experience and development of system design skills.
Information Technology Inherent in the module.
Personal Development and Career planning The module gives students an insight into the computing industry and potential careers. 
Problem solving Inherent to analysis process.
Research skills Students will be required to acquire knowledge from books and on-line sources.
Subject Specific Skills Specialist software engineering knowledge and skills will be explored.
Team work Collaboration and peer support is encouraged during laboratory sessions.


This module is at CQFW Level 6