SWEN326 (2020) - Safety-Critical Systems


This course addresses the concepts, techniques and tools required for developing computer systems that are applicable where safety and reliability is paramount. Topics include: the concepts and principles underlying safety-critical systems & standards (e.g. DO178C and IEC61508); techniques for design validation (e.g. model checking); and implementation techniques for ensuring software correctness (e.g. coding guidelines, testing, static analysis, etc). Practical work will involve the design, implementation, and analysis of simple safety critical applications (e.g. for industrial, embedded and healthcare systems).

Course learning objectives

Students who pass this course should be able to:

  1. Describe the key principles of safety critical systems and the implications of these for software design and implementation.
  2. Select and apply appropriate standards and processes to develop safety critical systems, for example IEC 61508 and DO-178C.
  3. Analyse potential risks, hazards, threats, and failure modes in the designs of safety critical systems.
  4. Design and construct software following safety critical standards, processes, and design techniques.
  5. Evaluate system designs and software against safety critical standards.

Withdrawal from Course

Withdrawal dates and process:


David Pearce (Coordinator)

Teaching Format

Weekly lectures and individual assignments during whole course. The assignments will build on the material presented in lectures.

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: 02 March 2020 - 07 June 2020
  • Break: 13 April 2020 - 27 April 2020
  • Study period: 08 June 2020 - 11 June 2020
  • Exam period: 12 June 2020 - 27 June 2020

Class Times and Room Numbers

02 March 2020 - 22 March 2020

  • Monday 09:00 - 09:50 – LT122, Cotton, Kelburn
  • Wednesday 09:00 - 09:50 – LT122, Cotton, Kelburn
  • Thursday 09:00 - 09:50 – LT122, Cotton, Kelburn
27 April 2020 - 28 June 2020

  • Monday 09:00 - 09:50 – , , Kelburn
  • Wednesday 09:00 - 09:50 – , , Kelburn
  • Thursday 09:00 - 09:50 – , , Kelburn


There are no required texts for this offering.

Mandatory Course Requirements

There are no mandatory course requirements for this course.

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.


Assessment ItemDue Date or Test DateCLO(s)Percentage
Assignment 1CLO: 1,2,3,4,520%
Assignment 2CLO: 4,510%
Assignment 3CLO: 4,510%
Assignment 4CLO: 4,510%
Exam (2 hours duration)CLO: 1,2,3,4,550%


Late submissions will incur an automatic penalty of 10% of the final
mark per day. Submission between 0 and 24 hours late will be counted
as one day late; those betwee 24 and 48 hours late will be counted as
two dates late, etc. Any request for an extension must be made to the
lecturer in charge prior to the due date. Any extensions requested on
the basis of medical grounds must be supported by a doctor's certificate.


Individual extensions will only be granted in exceptional personal circumstances, and should be negotiated with the course coordinator before the deadline whenever possible. Documentation (eg, medical certificate) may be required.

Submission & Return

All work is submitted through the ECS submission system, accessible through the course web pages. Marks and comments will be returned through the ECS marking system, also available through the course web pages.


Although the workload will vary from week to week, you should expect to spend approximately 10 hours per week on the course to give a total of 150 hours study time for the course.

Teaching Plan

See https://ecs.wgtn.ac.nz/Courses/SWEN326_2020T1/LectureSchedule

Communication of Additional Information

All online material for this course can be accessed at https://ecs.wgtn.ac.nz/Courses/SWEN326_2020T1/

Offering CRN: 30042

Points: 15
Prerequisites: NWEN 241, SWEN 225 (or 222)
Duration: 02 March 2020 - 28 June 2020
Starts: Trimester 1
Campus: Kelburn