Software Testing at University of Technology Sydney

I no longer teach this class. However, I do teach HSC students wanting to get into tech. See Catherine Karena from Test-Ed for details on how you can get experience based training in the tech industry.

I’m lecturing at the University of Technology this year. I’ve revamped it the course from last year, placing more of an emphasis on the testers skill. This is essential if we are going to improve the quality of testing within organisations, and its why large organisations are excited about and want to work with UTS to make this course happen. As far as I’m aware, this is the first course in Australia of this kind.
The course is part online part tutorial. There is a big emphasis on learning by doing, with lots of opportunity to practice testing. There’s also an opportunity to work with companies, performing testing and reporting to real stakeholders, giving you a real opportunity to experience what software testing is about.

Here’s an overview of the course content:

Software Testing

This course teaches postgraduates the essential skills required in software testing. Learn how to test software in a way that offers stakeholders valuable and insightful information on the quality of the product by asking useful questions of people and the product you are testing.

To do that, you will learn the principles of context driven testing, critical thinking skills, test strategy, test planning, collaboration and communication and documentation.

Subject Objectives

  • On completion of this subject, the student will have the potential to:
  • Understand how context drives how software testing is performed
  • Think critically in software testing
  • Creating Test Strategies
  • Know how to model a product for the purposes of software testing
  • Become proficient in bug finding
  • Learn how to test effectively
  • Create test reports that provide relevant information to software testing stakeholders

On completion of this subject, the student will improve

  • Their understanding of what software testing is and how it relates to other roles in product development
  • Their ability to think critically by asking useful questions.

Teaching and learning strategies

This course is based on the principles of experiential learning with an emphasis of understanding through doing. Each topic will be taught through a practical exercise. Students will have the opportunity to work individually and in groups to complete assignments throughout the course. There will be a final group assessment where students will work in a company to create a test strategy, test software and develop a test report on the software tested. 

This course is aimed at postgraduate students who wish to learn how to test software in an applied and thoughtful way. Some degree of technical understanding is beneficial but not essential.


This subject will cover the following topics:
1) Critical Thinking in Software Testing
2) Test Strategy: Modelling
3) Test Strategy: Coverage
4) Exploratory & Scripted Testing
5) Oracles and Bug Finding
6) Test Reports and Bug Reporting
7) Testability: Tools in Software Testing
8) Advanced Modelling – State Machines
9)  Communication with Stakeholders

Though the course is part of the post graduate program, they’ve agreed to allow people to take the module as a course in its own right. If your interested in taking part in this course,  go to the UTS website

13 thoughts on “Software Testing at University of Technology Sydney

  1. Anne-Marie – I have to ask: Does this provide a good example of providing a “standard” (I know, touchy word) way of teaching software testing? What would happen if it wasn’t you teaching it, but another experienced tester?
    A good companion or subsequent course would be one that incorporates your testing coach training – teaching graduates how to teach other new testers. Or perhaps that is best left as an independent study for experienced testers with a few years of experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Anne-Marie: I really like the idea of including coaching but I think it would have to be a different course. I think this course can be taught by an experienced tester that has experience in training, IF they understood the concepts I was teaching. Sydney has some great testers who do, Bruce McLeod, Richard Robinson, Margaret Dineen and Kim Engle to name a few. Would it be exactly the same as I taught? Probably not. If Cem Kaner wasn’t teaching at Florida, would the course there be the same? I suspect the content may remain the same, but it would be sightly different in delivery. P.S I read your blog last night, keep up the great work p

  2. Hi Anne-Marie,
    I’m curious as to the origins of this course. Did you approach the uni with this idea or vice versa (or did outside parties suggest it)?

    I remember hearing James Bach talking on a podcast (think it was Software Test Podcast) about the almost total lack of demand for software testing courses in the world of tertiary education. Do you think this is a portent that the pendulum is finally starting to swing?

    Keep us posted with how this works out, it would be very interesting to hear your thoughts once the course wraps up!

    1. Hi Dean
      I was approached by UTS to do this module. Its hard to know which way the pendulum is swinging. I know that corporate Australia really wants skilled testers. Is university the place where this will happen? I don’t know yet. Perhaps after the course has taken place I’ll be better able to answer that question!

      1. Hi Dean,
        I’ll expand on this because I’ve been involved with this from early on.

        Tom McBride Senior Lecturer of UTS had been pushing for a software testing course, and has been a lone voice in the wilderness for a long while with regards to software testing or QA being taken seriously at the University. He’s a great guy. I met with him last year and the course was re-tweaked to put it more in touch with the industry, material from the BBST was referenced and some experimentation on delivery, plus involvement with 10 start-ups for the kids to do a mini-project with and a large organisation that required a report for an enterprise software project. It ran from Feb to June 2012. It was okay. And Anne-Marie was great on her advice in the background at that stage when we had the kids working onsite with the start-ups. Kim Engel was great too, because she came and acted as coach and “Test Lead” when they were onsite.

        James Bach when he came down in late May, was kind of enough to lecture at the University and Tom met with him and Anne-Marie then. When he asked me who could take over the course early this year, I put Anne-Marie forward as the obvious choice; exceptional trainer and testing professional, well respected in high profile companies here in Sydney and on the ball with what the industry needs. In this instance “The University” hasn’t seen the need but Tom always has.

        I’ll make a point and say, that there are I think, or I have found a number of lecturers who trying to get much more industry participation in education. I’ve got a list of names of special people and a list of stories about the impact they’ve had on their students lives too, I might add.

        In a ICT review meeting though in mid-June when different companies were asked to give their input to a meeting of Engineering and IT staff – those companies expressed a strong need on many different topics that Universities become more relevant to the needs of the market across the board not just with regards to software testing, but the development, engineering etc. They many good things to say, but there were clear requirements that no University was satisfying. And from what I can see it’s individual people who are making the difference.


        1. has been a lone voice in the wilderness for a long while with regards to software testing or QA being taken seriously at the University.

          As a recent graduate from UTS IT faculty, there were no emphasis on testing and quality assurance at all, unfortunately.

  3. Maybe I’m a bit slow with all this – do you have a course number or URL – the UTS site is not the easiest site to navigate – and a search for software testing came up with 150 hits – I don’t have time to wade through all that

  4. Great to see more courses in testing, and the covered areas look good.I would like to warn you though, having Test Strategy early on can be tricky, unless the students know a lot about testing already.
    I have done this at higher vocational studies, and the learnings easily became too abstract.
    It’s an extremely important topic, so I want to have it a little in the beginning, and a lot in the end.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks Rikard, I appreciate the advice. I have some flexibility, so perhaps I will add an ‘advanced test strategy’ at the end depending on how well they took the early stuff.
      Perhaps we can discuss this at Lets Test?


  5. Hey Anne-Marie – course looks very interested – I would like some of my guys at IXA to attend remotely from Melbourne – is this a possibility? thanks, Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Right now, this course requires you spend 2 hours in a practical on Monday nights. However, I’m in the process of putting a similar online course in the near future. I’ll ping you with the details nearer the time.

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