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Unit information: Socio-technical Foundations for TIPS-at Scale in 2021/22

Unit name Socio-technical Foundations for TIPS-at Scale
Unit code COMSM0032
Credit points 50
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Awais Rashid
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Computer Science
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

This unit contains four modules, which will be tightly linked and jointly assessed via a group project that exposes students to industrial needs and the process of co-creation/tailoring of appropriate research with industry.

Module 1: Fundamentals of TIPS-at-Scale (by Bristol academics)

Will focus on:

  • Infrastructures: scalability challenges in cyber-physical systems, largescale networks and hardware
  • Human, organisation and regulatory contexts: risk management & governance, human factors pertaining to TIPS-at-Scale, privacy & online rights, law & regulatory aspects
  • Systems security: current techniques for cryptography, operating systems, cloud and distributed systems security, as well as authentication, authorisation and accountability - and the challenges in scaling these
  • Software security: challenges posed by both traditional software and the democratisation effect whereby people from all walks of life are developing and deploying apps to potentially millions of users globally

Aim Students develop a shared understanding of the underlying dimensions of TIPS and an awareness of the challenges when scaling up state-of-the-art methods.

Module 2: Empirical Research Methods for TIPS-at-Scale (by Bath academics)

Will include:

  • Importance of multiple/mixed methods in TIPS-at-Scale
  • Methods, including experiments, surveys, interviews, focus groups, ethnography and action research and their
  • Challenges of research with new forms of data, e.g., from large-scale information flows in social media or smart connected environments
  • Data-scientific thinking and use of quantitative methods for analysis of large-scale TIPS data sets
  • Ethical considerations in TIPS-at-Scale research such as sharing of large-scale data sets, their sanitisation and challenges with regards to assured anonymisation of

Aim To empower students to select, tailor and utilise appropriate (research) methods to address TIPS-at-Scale challenges.

Module 3: Threats and Risks for TIPS-at Scale (by Bristol academics)

Will include:

  • Attacks and defences, including how malware and attack technologies are scaling up, the factors driving adversarial behaviours and the challenges of undertaking security operations, forensics and incident management
  • Threats arising from cross-domain nature of hyper-connected infrastructures, where data and information cross a range of platform, administrative, organisational and geographical boundaries
  • Threat modelling for TIPS-at-Scale
  • Risk management and assessment, perceptions of risks pertaining to large-scale infrastructures, how these impact mitigation, existing risk frameworks and their limitations
  • Connecting risk and threat profiles to policy and decision making

Aim To expose students to state-of-the art risk management and mitigation approaches in industry, and the inherent challenges when attempting to scale those approaches up.

Module 4: Responsible Innovation (RI). (Prof Richard Owen)

Will include:

  • Innovation, its history and evolution, with a particular emphasis on models and processes of innovation in the (big) data and hyper-connected information age
  • Contemporary innovation systems, knowledge creation, diffusion and translation, with an emphasis on large scale hyperconnected systems
  • Innovation’s potential to co-produce risks / ethical dilemmas with economic and social value
  • Multi-level governance of innovation in large scale hyper-connected systems
  • Deficits of current governance and an RI framework to address these, modelled on real world case studies
  • Practical tools and methods for exploring TIPS through a framework for RI
  • Application of tools to TIPS at scale challenges within group projects

Aim To provide comprehensive training in responsible innovation around four key competencies as articulated by the EPSRC AREA framework for RI: anticipation, reflection, engagement and action.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the unit students are expected to:

  1. Have knowledge of state-of-the-art in TIPS from both infrastructure, systems and software perspective as well as human, organisational and regulatory perspective.
  2. Develop a deep awareness of the challenges when scaling up state-of-the-art methods.
  3. Develop a broad understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods and how to use mixed methods in research on TIPS in large-scale infrastructures.
  4. Have knowledge of threats to TIPS in large-scale infrastructures, current risk management and mitigation approaches and their limitations.
  5. Have a thorough comprehension of innovation and innovation systems (both generally and in the specific context of large scale, hyperconnected infrastructures), deep understanding of a framework for responsible innovation and specific tools that allow its translation into practice.
  6. Develop skills to apply knowledge of TIPS fundamentals to real-world scenarios and critique the limitations of existing approaches.

Teaching Information

Students will be actively engaged in the creation and delivery of teaching materials and learning experiences. We envision to utilise a flipped classroom model where academic mentors facilitate and guide the students' learning experience.

This includes guiding the selection of material, as well as presentation and delivery. There will be regular review sessions with academics in which students can discuss elements of their assessed work and receive feedback.

Assessment Information

The group project will be based on one of the TIPS-at-Scale case studies co-created with stakeholders as part of the IRW sandpit (this takes place at the start of the programme). Students will apply the learning from modules 1-4 above in hands-on problem-solving as part of the group project and use it to reflect on TIPS-at-Scale challenges and limitations of current techniques to address them. They will develop a:

  1. threat model for the case study, a detailed risk analysis and mitigation plan, and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of their chosen threat modelling and risk assessment frameworks (Module 3: Threats and Risks). Students will be expected to include corporate and public policy / communication implications within this work, alongside technical analysis and mitigation. (Weighting 20%) (ILO 4)
  2. report critiquing the strengths and limitations of current TIPS mechanisms (Module 1: Fundamentals) in mitigating the risks. (Weighting 20%) (ILO 1, 2)
  3. proposal for a methodological approach for empirically-grounded collection and analysis of threat and risk data in the context of the case study (Module 2: Empirical Research Methods). (Weighting 20%) (ILO 3)
  4. 5-minute video summarising and reflecting on a 1 hour semi-structured interview (conducted with the group mentor from a partner organisation) using RI learning to explore how they approach governance, ethics and TIPS at scale challenges in innovation in their organisation and daily practice (i.e. from the practitioner’s viewpoint), alongside a 2000 word summary of key insights (‘RI Case Study’ sheet). These video and written summaries will over time become a valuable resource for students and practitioners across the CDT. Where possible, and with consent, we will include these on the CDT website for more general dissemination. (Weighting 20%) (ILO 5)
  5. Write a 1000 word critical reflection on their own performance and that of their group members, which will be utilised to differentiate (if appropriate) between group members’ performance (Weighting 20%).


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. COMSM0032).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.