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Requirements:  2020-2021



Schedule C1 (CS&P)Computer Science and Philosophy

Schedule C1Computer Science

Schedule C1Mathematics and Computer Science

Schedule CMSc in Computer Science



The course will take place in week 4 of Trinity term 2021, Monday 17th May - Friday 21st May, 2021.


Many software and hardware development projects go through a phase called 'Requirements Capture and Analysis' which tries to determine the properties a system should have in order to succeed in the environment in which it will be used. This can be a very difficult task, and typical requirements documents contain errors, some of which are very difficult to detect, as well as very expensive to correct later on. Experience shows that many errors arise from social, political and cultural factors and recent research has focused on the problem of reconciling such factors with traditional concerns about the more technical aspects of system development.

This course takes a unique stance to the discussion of requirements in that it acknowledges the involvement of both the social and technical concerns. The course surveys a wide range of different approaches to the problem of determining requirements and aims to provide students with a set of techniques and skills that may be tailored to address a wide range of requirements problems.

The programme of study starts by considering conventional software engineering approaches to requirements engineering, including Use Cases, and progresses through a range of approaches, focussing on those which consider both technical and social concerns. Practical guidance is also included. Current methods for requirements capture often make implicit assumptions about the nature of social life and conduct and these will be discussed on the course and alternatives presented. The course itself has been designed to challenge many existing conceptions of the design process and there will be plenty of time to discuss the critical issues.

Course presentation combines lectures, classes and student presentations of a pre-study exercise. The course is illustrated with a number of case studies, and students are encouraged to select appropriate methods, tools and techniques to address the issues raised by case studies.

The course is designed to enable participants to:

  • Appreciate how requirements fit into the overall software development lifecycle.
  • Be aware of a variety of methods tools and techniques for requirements capture and analysis.
  • Become aware of some of the typical issues and problems facing practical requirements engineering.
  • Identify methods tools and techniques for understanding user, work practice and organisational requirements.

The material from the lectures and classes will be assessed by a take-home assignment consisting of a report based on a case study. Individual student class presentation of pre-study material contributes to the assessment.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will have a breadth of knowledge about the range of requirements methods, tools, and techniques. They will gain an appreciation of at least two methods, and obtain practical guidance on elicitation techniques.


Students will not be required to have previous knowledge of requirements engineering though practical experience is useful.  There will be a pre-study exercise that must be completed before the course begins.


  • The Software Design Process: the need for requirements analysis; the software lifecycle
  • Classification of Requirements Methods: an orientation from which to assess existing and novel methods
  • Hard Methods: underlying assumptions; practical exercise in use case scenarios
  • Requirements Elicitation; various techniques; strengths and weaknesses
  • Scenarios and Agile Approaches
  • Managing the Requirements Process: methods that provide a structure for co-operation between different stakeholders
  • Specifying Requirements: functional and non-functional requirements; specification exercise
  • Value-Sensitive Design
  • Video-based Requirements Capture
  • Prototyping: the role of prototyping in requirements techniques for prototyping.
  • Requirements for Collaboration: Computer Supported Co-operative Work (CSCW); Ubiquitous and Augmented Technologies


This one week course incorporates pre-study, seminar style teaching, and a real-world mini-research project at the end of the course. Ther are 12 lectures and 12 tutorials


The material from the lectures and classes will be assessed by take-home examination consisting of a real world case study report and a piece of group work and presentation at the end of the course.

Reading list

There is no set textbook for this course. References that describe some of the aspects of the course are:

  • Alan M. Davis. (1993). Software Requirements: objects, functions and states. Prentice Hall. (This text covers many of the more traditional approaches to requirements engineering).
  • Doug Rosenberg and Kendall Scott, Use Case Driven Object Modelling with UML Addison Wesley 1999. (A short introduction to the application of use cases and modelling within a modern software development situation).
  • Marina Jirotka and Joseph Goguen (Eds). (1994). Requirements Engineering: Social and Technical Issues. Academic Press. (This is an edited collection which discusses in detail the role of both social and technical issues in requirements engineering).
  • Sommerville, I. and Sawyer, P. Requirements Engineering. A good practice guide. John Wiley and Sons. 1997. (A set of guidelines for 'best practice' intended for practitioners in the field).

Other relevant text books:

  • Cockburn, A. (2000). Writing Effective Use Cases. London: Addison-Wesley.
  • Cockburn, A. (2007). Agile software development: the cooperative game, 2nd Edition. London: Addison-Wesley.
  • Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J., Luff, P. (2010). Video in Qualitative Research: Analysing social interaction in everyday life. London: Sage.
  • Randall, D., Harper, R., Rouncefield, M. (2007). Fieldwork for Design. London: Springer- Verlag.