SWEN304 (2022) - Database System Engineering


The course addresses fundamental principles underlying databases and database management systems. It covers the structure and principles of the relational data model, including SQL, and the principled design of the relational database schema. It also addresses issues in database transaction procession, concurrency control, recovery, and the complexity of query processing.

Course learning objectives

Students who pass this course will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the principles of database systems generally and the relational database model specifically;
  2. Set up, query, and update a relational database using interactive SQL;
  3. Set up, query, and update a relational database using a transaction program written in Java;
  4. Explain the basic principles and common trade-offs in designing a relational database, and to design it;
  5. Explain the basic principles and common trade-offs in relational database query optimization;
  6. Explain the basic principles of database concurrency control and recovery, and implement them within a transaction program.

Course content

2022: The course is primarily offered in-person, and there are components such as tests, labs, tutorials, and marking sessions which require in-person attendance. There will be remote alternatives for all the components of the course, but these are only available to students studying from outside the Wellington region. The remote option for tests will use a Zoom-based system for online supervision of the tests. 
Students taking this course remotely must have access to a computer with camera and microphone and a reliable high speed internet connection that will support real-time video plus audio connections and screen sharing.  Students must be able to use Zoom; other communication applications may also be used. A mobile phone connection only is not considered sufficient.   The computer must be adequate to support the programming required by the course: almost any modern windows, macintosh, or unix laptop or desktop computer will be sufficient, but an Android or IOS tablet will not.

Withdrawal from Course

Withdrawal dates and process:


Dr Hui Ma (Coordinator)

Teaching Format

This course will be offered in-person and online.  For students in Wellington, there will be a combination of in-person components and web/internet based resources. It will also be possible to take the course entirely online for those who cannot attend on campus, with all the components provided in-person also made available online.
During the trimester there will be three lectures per week. Some lecture times will be used for tutorials.

Student feedback

Student feedback on University courses may be found at:  www.cad.vuw.ac.nz/feedback/feedback_display.php

Dates (trimester, teaching & break dates)

  • Teaching: 28 February 2022 - 03 June 2022
  • Break: 11 April 2022 - 24 April 2022
  • Study period: 06 June 2022 - 09 June 2022
  • Exam period: 10 June 2022 - 25 June 2022

Class Times and Room Numbers

28 February 2022 - 10 April 2022

  • Monday 15:10 - 16:00 – LT122, Cotton, Kelburn
  • Wednesday 14:10 - 15:00 – LT002, Hugh Mackenzie, Kelburn
  • Friday 14:10 - 15:00 – LT002, Hugh Mackenzie, Kelburn
25 April 2022 - 05 June 2022

  • Monday 15:10 - 16:00 – LT122, Cotton, Kelburn
  • Wednesday 14:10 - 15:00 – LT002, Hugh Mackenzie, Kelburn
  • Friday 14:10 - 15:00 – LT002, Hugh Mackenzie, Kelburn

Other Classes

There will be helpdesk sessions starting in week 2 in one of the school labs - details to be announced.


The textbook for SWEN 304 (available from Vic Books, or you can seek out alternate options or e-books from any publisher or supplier available to you) is:

  • R. Elmasri and S. Navathe, Fundamentals of Database Systems; 6th/7th edition, Pearson/Addison Wesley, 2014/2015.

Mandatory Course Requirements

In addition to achieving an overall pass mark of at least 50%, students must:

  • achieve at least 40% of the overall marks for projects and assignments (i.e. 40%*65 marks), to demonstrate achievement of all the CLOs of the course.
  • achieve at least a D grade for the exam.

If you believe that exceptional circumstances may prevent you from meeting the mandatory course requirements, contact the Course Coordinator for advice as soon as possible.


This course will be assessed through assignments, projects and a exam.  The exam will be held in the assessment period of the trimester.
The assessment weights shown below are based on the assumption that we can do the exam in-person. If there is a lockdown during the exam the weight of the exam will be reduced from 35% to 20%, and the deducted 15% will be added to the weights of Assignment1-3, and Project 1-2.

Assessment ItemDue Date or Test DateCLO(s)Percentage
Assignment 1Week 5CLO: 115%
Assignment 2Week 8CLO: 510%
Assignment 3Week 11CLO: 410%
Project 1Week 7CLO: 220%
Project 2Week 12CLO: 3,610%
ExamCLO: 1,2,3,4,5,635%


Any assignment or project submitted after the due date will be penalized at the rate of 5% per day. Assignments that are more than one week late will not be marked.


Approval to submit assignments and projects late without penalty will only be granted in exceptional circumstances whenever possible arranged prior to the due date. Medical and other excuses may be accompanied by a doctor's certificate.

Submission & Return

Unless otherwise instructed, assignments may be submitted via the School's electronic submission system or SWEN 304 assignment box on level 2 of the Cotton Building, and projects should be submitted via the electronic submission system. Marks and comments will be returned through the ECS marking system or via the course web pages.


In order to maintain satisfactory progress in SWEN 304, you should plan to spend an average of 10 hours per week on this paper, which includes attending lectures, solving homework assignments, doing practical work, additional reading, and reviewing lecture material.

Teaching Plan

See: https://ecs.wgtn.ac.nz/Courses/SWEN304_2022T1/LectureSchedule

Communication of Additional Information

The main means of communication outside of lectures will be the SWEN 304 web area at https://ecs.wgtn.ac.nz/Courses/SWEN304_2022T1/. There you will find, among other things, this document, the lecture schedule and assignment handouts, and the SWEN 304 Forum. The forum is a web-based bulletin board system. Questions and comments can be posted to the forum, and staff will read these posts and frequently respond to them.

Offering CRN: 17186

Points: 15
Prerequisites: COMP 261 or SWEN 221; ENGR 123 or MATH 161
Duration: 28 February 2022 - 26 June 2022
Starts: Trimester 1
Campus: Kelburn