SWEN435 (2023) - 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 should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the principles of database systems generally and especially the relational database model.
  2. Set up, query, and update a relational database using interactive SQL and using a transaction program written in Java.
  3. Apply database principles, including data integrity and normalisation principles, and common trade-offs in designing a relational database.
  4. Apply principles and common trade-offs in relational database query optimization.
  5. Explain the basic principles of database concurrency control and recovery and implement them within a transaction program.
  6. Explain the basic principles of NoSQL databases.

Course content

This course is designed for in-person study, and students are strongly recommended to attend lectures and tutorials on campus. In particular, some assessment items or practical hands-on labs will require in-person attendance, although exceptions can be made under special circumstances.
Queries about any such exceptions can be sent to remote-enrolments@ecs.vuw.ac.nz.

Withdrawal from Course

Withdrawal dates and process:


Dr Hui Ma (Coordinator)

Dr Andrew Lensen

Dr Hoai-Bach Nguyen

Teaching Format

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.

Dates (trimester, teaching & break dates)

  • Teaching: 27 February 2023 - 02 June 2023
  • Break: 10 April 2023 - 23 April 2023
  • Study period: 05 June 2023 - 08 June 2023
  • Exam period: 09 June 2023 - 24 June 2023

Class Times and Room Numbers

27 February 2023 - 02 April 2023

  • Friday 12:00 - 12:50 – LT122, Cotton, Kelburn
27 February 2023 - 09 April 2023

  • Monday 12:00 - 12:50 – MT228, Student Union, Kelburn
  • Wednesday 12:00 - 12:50 – MT228, Student Union, Kelburn
24 April 2023 - 04 June 2023

  • Monday 12:00 - 12:50 – MT228, Student Union, Kelburn
  • Wednesday 12:00 - 12:50 – MT228, Student Union, Kelburn
  • Friday 12:00 - 12:50 – LT122, Cotton, Kelburn


The textbook for SWEN 435 (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%*50 marks), to demonstrate achievement of all the CLOs of the course.
  • Achieve at least a D grade for the Final Test.

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 1Week 5CLO: 110%
Assignment 2Week 8CLO: 45%
Assignment 3Week 11CLO: 35%
Project 1Week 7CLO: 220%
Project 2Week 12CLO: 2,510%
EssayCLO: 615%
Final TestCLO: 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 and projecs may be submitted via the School's electronic submission system or SWEN 435 assignment box on level 2 of the Cotton Building. Marks and comments will be returned through the ECS marking system or via the hard copy of the submitted assignments or projects.


In order to maintain satisfactory progress in SWEN 435, 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_2023T1/LectureSchedule

Communication of Additional Information

The main means of communication outside of lectures will be the SWEN 435 web area at https://ecs.wgtn.ac.nz/Courses/SWEN435_2023T1/. There you will find, among other things, this document, the lecture schedule and assignment handouts, and the SWEN 435 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: 35116

Points: 15
Prerequisites: 60 300-level pts of COMP, NWEN, SWEN
Restrictions: SWEN 304, SWEN 439 in 2021-2022
Duration: 27 February 2023 - 25 June 2023
Starts: Trimester 1
Campus: Kelburn