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Unit information: Resilient Socio-technical Infrastructures in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Resilient Socio-technical Infrastructures
Unit code COMSM0030
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Awais Rashid
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Computer Science
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

Students will learn about approaches to keep large socio-technical infrastructures in operation when they operate in partially-trusted settings and even when parts of the infrastructure are compromised, e.g., inclusion of malicious human actors, software or hardware. Topics will include:

  • Resilience as more than just a technical issue, inter-relationship between security and safety, and integrated safe-secure architectures.
  • How trust is formed and impacted, how to engender trust in large-scale socio-technical infrastructures by the general public and users and mitigating adversarial behaviours in such infrastructures.
  • Integrity and recoverability of information (while preserving privacy) in large-scale infrastructures.
  • Technical approaches to resilience, e.g., moving target defence, automated software diversity, autonomous (secure) arbitration of resources, hardware roots of trust.
  • Graceful recovery when compromised, including automated and semi-automated techniques.

Students undertake an extensive analysis of two major testbed infrastructures, reflect on their resilience and make proposals for improvements.


Students will develop a deep understanding of the challenges of keeping infrastructures operational when under attack and gain hands-on expertise in analysing large-scale infrastructures from a resilience perspective.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit students are expected to:

  1. Have knowledge of techniques and methods for detecting when large-scale infrastructures are under attack.
  2. Be able to analyse the underlying causes of the compromise and develop strategies to keep the infrastructure operational while limiting the attackers’ movement through to other parts of the infrastructure.
  3. Have knowledge of techniques to recover the infrastructure to a fully operational, secure and safe state.
  4. Ability to analyse the problems from different disciplinary perspectives and devise solutions that synthesise different disciplinary perspectives – leverage both human and technical resources in such infrastructures.
  5. Hands-on knowledge and experience of working on TIPS problems in real-world contexts.

Teaching Information

This unit will be made up of a combination of taught classes and Q&A sessions.

Assessment Information

  1. Analysis of the Bristol Cyber Security testbed - group work - 40%
  2. Analysis of the Energy Demand Management System - group work - 40%
  3. Critical reflection - Individual Work - 20%

Reading and References

Fundamental reading will be the Cyber-Physical Systems knowledge area from the Cyber Security Body of Knowledge (