CS 321: Software Engineering

(Fall 2018)


Email course staff only for logistical issues such as meeting outside of office hours, missing lecture, grading disputes, medical situations, etc. All other questions should be brought up in class, office hours, or Piazza.

BlackBoard is used for project submissions and to post grades.

Piazza is used for discussions, slides, links, and GTA communication.

Instructor: Katherine (Raven) Russell
Instructor Email: krusselc_AT_gmu.edu
Email Subject Line: [CS321]
Office: Engineering, Rm 5328
Open Office Hours (no appointment needed) See Piazza
GTA: See Piazza for contact information


This Semester's REQUIRED Book: The Phoenix Project by Kim, Behr, and Spafford (ISBN 10: 0988262509 / ISBN 13: 978-0988262508). This is available in paperback, on Kindle, and in audio book for less than $20 and you can preview the first few chapters on Amazon (get the audio book if you don't like reading).

There is no specifically required textbook for this class, but if you want a textbook the following are some options:

  1. Software Modeling and Design: UML, Use Cases, Patterns, and Software Architectures by H. Gomaa (ISBN 10: 0521764149 / ISBN 13: 978-0521764148)
  2. Software Engineering by Ian Sommerville, some recent edition (e.g. 9th Edition, ISBN 10: 0137035152 / ISBN 13: 978-0137035151, or 10th Edition, ISBN 10: 0133943038 / ISBN 13: 978-0133943030).


You will need a computer for this class with some modern operating system capable of running a Java compiler and some other misc. software. Remember that lab computers are also available on campus, see next section.

The prerequisites for this course are a grade of C or better in CS 310 and ENGH 302. I will assume "three semesters worth" of programming experience and knowledge of Java. You must understand basic program design, coding, and debugging techniques before taking this class.


  1. An understanding of all phases of the software engineering lifecycle (requirements, design, implementation, testing, deployment, maintenance).
  2. An understanding of several software lifecycle models including both prescriptive and agile models and knowledge of tradeoffs among these models.
  3. An ability to create and use UML models to develop and document software analysis and design artifacts.
  4. An understanding of fundamental project management and leadership issues for software teams.
  5. An ability to apply software engineering methods to address the requirements and design phases of a large software project.



Team Project Deliverables 32% (4% each)
Individual Homework 23% (2% per UML homework, 3% per writing homework, 8% final reflection)
Quizzes & Class Participation 20%
Final Exam 25%

Contesting of grades on any/all submissions must be requested within one week of the item's return. No grade changes will be considered subsequent to that deadline, or after the final exam meeting.


Final grades will be assigned without rounding according to the following criteria. It is a 10-point scale per letter grade, with the upper and lower 2% of each 10% earning a + or -.

A+ (>= 98.0%) A (>= 92.0%) A- (>= 90.0%)
B+ (>= 88.0%) B (>= 82.0%) B- (>= 80.0%)
C+ (>= 78.0%) C (>= 72.0%) C- (>= 70.0%)
D (>= 60.0%)
F (< 60.0%)


PRIME DIRECTIVE: Be able to explain your own work including homework, project deliverables, and exam solutions. The work you submit should be the product of your own effort and reflect your personal understanding unless the assignment is explicitly stated to be a group assignment (in writing). Students may be asked at any time to explain their contributions or exam solutions they submit. Inability to do so will be construed as evidence of misconduct.

Both the University and the Computer Science Department have honor codes you are expected to adhere to. We will be reviewing these in class, but more information about the university honor code can be found here: http://oai.gmu.edu/the-mason-honor-code-2/ and the deparment's honor code can be found here: http://cs.gmu.edu/resources/honor-code/. You are bound by these honor codes.

Any submitted work which shows too much commonality with others' work to be completely original, or any plagiarized work, will result in a case for the Honors Committee. Any code which is presented in class or provided to you as part of the project may be included in your programs.