The Programme has its origins in the industrial courses presented by the Computing Laboratory—the computing science department of the University of Oxford—during the 1980s. These were one- or two-week intensive courses, given by leading researchers, on topics of interest to partner organisations. In the 1990s, with generous support from the EPSRC, these courses were revised and extended to produce a complete academic programme at Master's level.
The discipline of software engineering has changed considerably since the Programme was first launched: the principles may remain the same, but the context in which they are applied is constantly evolving. As a result, the Programme is in a state of continuous development, placing greater emphasis on different principles, and finding new ways to relate them to industrial practice.
This development is strongly connected to the research activity of the programme academics, continuing a tradition started by Christopher Strachey, who joined the Computing Laboratory in 1965: ...the separation of practical and theoretical work is artificial and injurious. One of [our] central aims... as a teaching and research group has been to set up an atmosphere in which this separation cannot happen.
Between January 1993 and the time at which you accessed this web page, 818 courses have been delivered, by 136 lecturers and assistants, and 562 students have obtained a postgraduate qualification in software engineering from the University of Oxford.