Course Syllabus

Welcome to CS302: Software Engineering

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.


Course Description

Learn how to apply an engineering approach to computer software development by focusing on software principles, lifecycle models, requirements and specifications, architecture and conceptual model design, detailed design, implementation, validation and verification, quality assurance, configuration control, project management, tools, and environments.


Course Introduction

Software engineering is a discipline that allows us to apply engineering and computer science concepts in developing and maintaining reliable, usable, and dependable software. The software engineering concept was discussed at Germany's 1968 NATO Science Committee meeting. In 1984, Carnegie Mellon University won a contract to establish a government research and development center to transition processes, methods, tools, and frameworks to address the challenges of software cost and quality in meeting customer needs. There are several areas to focus on within software engineering, such as design, development, testing, maintenance, and management. Software development outside the classroom is complex because real-world software is much larger, widely distributed worldwide, and faces cybersecurity threats.

This course aims to present software engineering as a body of knowledge. The course presents software engineering concepts and principles parallel to the software development life cycle. The course will begin with an introduction to software engineering, defining this body of knowledge and a discussion of the main methodologies of software engineering. You will then learn about the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) framework and its major methodologies, followed by software modeling using the Unified Modeling Language (UML), a standardized general-purpose modeling language used to create visual models of object-oriented software. You will learn about the SDLC's major phases: analysis, design, coding/implementation, and testing. You will also learn about project management to deliver high-quality software that satisfies customer needs and stays within budget. By completing the course, you will master software engineering concepts, principles, and essential processes of the SDLC. Using UML, you will demonstrate this knowledge by creating artifacts for requirements gathering, analysis, and design phases.

Software Engineering is a highly process-oriented discipline, including many technical and management activities performed by computer hardware, software, or people. In general, a process is a description of the tasks to be performed to complete an activity. Suppose a process needs more detail for hardware, software, or humans to perform the activity (the process is not enactable). In that case, it must have an associated procedure that describes "how" the tasks are enacted. In general, a procedure describes "how" a process is enacted. Processes and procedures also specify "who" enacts them (the roles) and provide context information, such as "why", "when", and "where" the activities are performed. Lastly, this course uses several important paradigms. A paradigm is a perspective, pattern, or model that helps describe a discipline. Two important paradigms for this course are "life cycle", used to describe the development of a system, and "language", used to explain processes and procedures. We communicate via a language that has nouns and verbs. Nouns represent roles ("who" and "what") and places ("where"); verbs represent activities, processes, and procedures. To learn the language, we need to learn its terms, the relationships of the terms, and its grammar. The language paradigm is used in explaining object-oriented design, modeling languages, and teaching programming languages.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Software Engineering
  • Unit 2: The Software Development Life Cycle
  • Unit 3: Software Modeling
  • Unit 4: Software Requirements Gathering
  • Unit 5: Software Requirements Analysis
  • Unit 6: Software Design
  • Unit 7: Object-Oriented Implementations
  • Unit 8: Software Testing
  • Unit 9: Project Management
  • Unit 10: Design Modification and Quality Control


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • describe the knowledge and skills necessary to practice software engineering and the professional issues that a software engineer might face;
  • use software engineering principles such as separation of concerns, abstraction, and incremental development to develop reliable software;
  • differentiate between software development processes and methods;
  • create major activities and key deliverables in a software development life cycle, such as use case, class, and sequence diagrams;
  • create UML diagrams for software analysis and design by using the object-oriented methodology;
  • use project management concepts to manage projects, people, and products; and
  • use software engineering concepts to construct quality software systems.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

This course's primary learning materials are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource and will help you understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. To pass this course, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

There are also end-of-unit assessments in this course. These are designed to help you study and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.


Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor Academy's Direct Credit Program. If you want to earn college credit, you must take and pass the Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password-protected and requires a proctor. If you pass the Direct Credit exam, you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate and be eligible to earn an official transcript. For more information about applying for college credit, review the guide to college credit opportunities. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details like fees and technical requirements.

There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam. There is no waiting period between attempts for the not-for-credit exam and the Direct Credit exam. You may only attempt each Direct Credit final exam a maximum of 3 times. Be sure to study in between each attempt!


Tips for Success

CS302: Software Engineering is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 36 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a comfortable pace that allows you to make regular progress. It's also a good idea to schedule your study time in advance and try to stick to that schedule as best as you can.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory and will make you more likely to retain information over time.


Suggested Prerequisites

To take this course, you should have completed:

  • CS101: Introduction to Computer Science I
  • CS102: Introduction to Computer Science II
  • CS107: C++ Programming
  • CS201: Elementary Data Structures
  • CS202: Discrete Structures
  • CS301: Computer Architecture


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course, including assessments and the final exam, you will need to log in to your Saylor Academy account and enroll in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access the course materials without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional Direct Credit final exam, then you will also need access to a webcam. This lets our remote proctoring service verify your identity, which is required to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course also has an optional final exam that can give you an opportunity to earn college credit. This exam requires the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring for this optional exam is $5 per session.

Last modified: Friday, January 19, 2024, 5:42 PM