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Online Module Selection

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Topic Description

Summary
Students studying degree programmes at the University of Leeds are required to choose a
set of modules that they would like to study in the second and third years of their course.
The lack of any specific means of support for students involved in this process was identified
as being a problem that could be investigated, and perhaps solved through the generation of
a computer based application.
A solution was developed that attempted to provide students with assistance in selecting
their modules by interactively showing them what modules they are permitted to take, and
how the selection of one module would affect which modules could be taken in subsequent
semesters/levels. Due to the constraints of time and the volume of data that was required,
the solution was restricted to dealing solely with students enrolled on the Single Honours
Programmes offered by the School of Computing.
The solution drew upon the documentation of previous projects that had attempted to
produce a solution to this problem, as well as input from numerous members of staff at the
University of Leeds, but was primarily based upon the author’s own experiences whilst
studying at the University of Leeds.
Although the project was deemed a success under the scrutiny of both quantitative and
qualitative evaluation criteria, if the solution were to be implemented into a “live”
environment, numerous modifications would need to be made in order for it to correctly
integrate with existing data sources. Also, for the solution to be truly valuable it would be
necessary to expand its scope to encompass all degree programmes and not just single
honours programmes.
This report documents the development of the solution, incorporating all stages from the
initial examination of the problem through to the testing and evaluation of the solution as well
as suggestions for future improvements.

Contents
1 BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………..1
1.1 SPECIFICATION OF THE PROBLEM……………………………………………………………………..1
1.2 PREVIOUS SOLUTIONS …………………………………………………………………………………….2
1.3 PROJECT PURPOSE………………………………………………………………………………………….2
1.3.1 Aim ………………………………………………………………………………………………………3
1.3.2 Minimum Requirements…………………………………………………………………………..3
1.4 POSSIBLE ENHANCEMENTS………………………………………………………………………………3
1.5 SCOPE…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..3
1.6 CONSTRAINTS ……………………………………………………………………………………………….4
1.6.1 Hardware/Software ………………………………………………………………………………..4
1.6.2 Time……………………………………………………………………………………………………..4
2 PROJECT MANAGEMENT………………………………………………………………………………5
2.1 DEVELOPMENTMETHODOLOGY……………………………………………………………………….5
2.1.1 The V Process Model………………………………………………………………………………5
2.1.2 Waterfall Model……………………………………………………………………………………..6
2.1.3 The Spiral Model……………………………………………………………………………………7
2.1.4 Rapid Prototyping ………………………………………………………………………………….8
2.1.5 Choice of Model …………………………………………………………………………………….9
2.2 PROJECT PLAN ………………………………………………………………………………………………9
2.2.1 Investigation of the problem…………………………………………………………………….9
2.2.2 Design…………………………………………………………………………………………………10
2.2.3 Implementation…………………………………………………………………………………….10
2.2.4 Testing ………………………………………………………………………………………………..10
2.3 SCHEDULE…………………………………………………………………………………………………..11
3 PROBLEM INVESTIGATION…………………………………………………………………………12
3.1 ANALYSIS OF THE EXISTINGMODULE SELECTION PROCESS ……………………………….12
3.2 FACTORS INFLUENCINGMODULE SELECTION …………………………………………………..13
3.2.1 Prerequisites………………………………………………………………………………………..13
3.2.2 Division of Work…………………………………………………………………………………..13
3.2.3 Timetabling………………………………………………………………………………………….14
3.2.4 Related Modules / Previous Results ………………………………………………………..14
3.2.5 Method of Assessment …………………………………………………………………………..15
3.2.6 Other Factors ………………………………………………………………………………………15
3.2.7 Methods of Support ………………………………………………………………………………15
3.3 SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS……………………………………………………………………………16
3.4 EXISTING AND RELATED SYSTEMS………………………………………………………………….17
3.4.1 Existing Databases……………………………………………………………………………….17
3.4.2 Review of Previous Projects…………………………………………………………………..18
3.4.3 Influence of Past Projects ……………………………………………………………………..19
4 PROGRAM DESIGN ……………………………………………………………………………………….20
4.1 APPLICATION TYPE ………………………………………………………………………………………20
4.2 ARCHITECTURE ……………………………………………………………………………………………20
4.3 DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT ………………………………………………………………………21
iv
4.3.1 Web Page Languages ……………………………………………………………………………21
4.3.2 Web Server ………………………………………………………………………………………….23
4.3.3 Data Storage ……………………………………………………………………………………….24
4.3.4 Final Choices ………………………………………………………………………………………25
4.4 DESIGN OF DATABASE…………………………………………………………………………………..26
4.4.1 Maintenance of Data…………………………………………………………………………….27
4.5 INTERFACE ………………………………………………………………………………………………….27
5 IMPLEMENTATION……………………………………………………………………………………….29
5.1 PREPARATORY STEPS ……………………………………………………………………………………29
5.2 POSTGRESSQL…………………………………………………………………………………………….29
5.2.1 Collection of Data ………………………………………………………………………………..30
5.3 CODING OF THE SOFTWARE……………………………………………………………………………30
5.3.1 Structure……………………………………………………………………………………………..31
5.3.2 PHP Sessions……………………………………………………………………………………….32
5.3.3 Accessing the Database with PHP………………………………………………………….33
5.3.4 Prerequisites………………………………………………………………………………………..34
5.3.5 Selection of Modules …………………………………………………………………………….34
5.3.6 Electives ……………………………………………………………………………………………..36
5.3.7 Timetabling………………………………………………………………………………………….37
6 TESTING…………………………………………………………………………………………………………39
6.1 TESTING PROCEDURES ………………………………………………………………………………….39
6.1.1 Unit Testing…………………………………………………………………………………………39
6.1.2 System Testing……………………………………………………………………………………..39
6.1.3 User Acceptance Testing……………………………………………………………………….40
6.1.4 When did Testing Occur?………………………………………………………………………40
6.2 ISSUES IDENTIFIED BY TESTING………………………………………………………………………40
6.2.1 Unit Testing…………………………………………………………………………………………40
6.2.2 System Testing……………………………………………………………………………………..41
6.2.3 User Acceptance Testing……………………………………………………………………….42
7 EVALUATION…………………………………………………………………………………………………44
7.1 EVALUATION CRITERIA…………………………………………………………………………………44
7.2 DOES THE SYSTEMMEET ITS AIM ANDMINIMUM REQUIREMENTS?…………………….44
7.3 IS THE SYSTEM ON TIME? ……………………………………………………………………………..45
7.4 IS THE SYSTEM RELIABLE?…………………………………………………………………………….45
7.5 IS THE SYSTEMMAINTAINABLE? ……………………………………………………………………46
7.5.1 Program Maintenance…………………………………………………………………………..46
7.5.2 Data Maintenance ………………………………………………………………………………..46
7.6 DOES THE SYSTEM SATISFY THE USERS? …………………………………………………………46
7.7 FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS……………………………………………………………………………..47
BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………………………………………………………………….. 48
APPENDIX A – PROJECT REFLECTION……………………………………………………. 50
APPENDIX B – USER GUIDE …………………………………………………………….………

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