Fall 2023 — Syllabus

The true subject matter of the tester is not testing, but the design of test cases —Jeff Offutt

Class hours

Monday, Wednesday, and Froday 1:00pm−1:50pm, Olsson Hall 120 (This course will be held in-person)

You are the main driver of your learning success. 
Your engagement and participation is the most important aspect of your learning experience. 
You are encouraged to do all the activities, try all concepts, experience everything 
introduced in this course, ... and do beyond the course's minimum requirements. 
The best way to learn software testing is to do it, and do it often. To help you practice  
and maximize hands-on experience, we will do lab-style activities almost every class meeting. 
Although attendance is not required, you will have the best learning experience in the course 
if you are able to attend the meeting.

Meet the team

Instructor: Upsorn Praphamontripong

Teaching Assistants:
Alby Alex, Andrew Cornfeld, Nadia Eisa, Nishita Ghanate, Thumay Huynh, Brandon Park, Jonah Kim, Sylvia Tan, Jialin Tso, Hannah Vaccaro, Claire Yoon

Office hours

We have fantastic teaching assistants for this course. Get to know them!

Our TAs are students too. Let them be students when they are not on the clocks as TAs.
Please only contact TAs via Piazza or in person (or via Zoom) during their scheduled office hours, 
do not contact them via email.

Course overview

Software is everywhere. Software defines the behavior of services such as transportation systems, medical services, and embedded applications such as spaceships, household appliances, and mobile phones. Society's reliance on software applications places a high demand on their reliability; knowledge of software testing is becoming necessary for all software developers and software engineers. Although many factors affect the engineering of reliable software, including careful design and sound process management, testing is the primary way industry evaluates software during development.

Testing is the most time-consuming and expensive part of software development. Not testing is even more expensive. Inappropriate or inadequate testing can cause unexpected behavior, catastrophic software failure, monetary loss, and loss of life.

Have you ever wondered how we should test software? How do we know if we have tested enough? How many tests do we need? When should we stop testing? We write tests to test software, but how do we test our tests?

This course has two closely related themes:

  • First, more than half the effort in software development is devoted to activities related to testing, including test design, execution, and evaluation. In this course, you will learn quantitative, technical, and practical methods that software engineers and developers can use to test their software.
  • Second, more than half of software development effort is not a new development, but maintenance activities such as adding new features, correcting problems, migrating to new platforms, and integrating third-party components into new projects.

These two themes are intertwined because much of the effort during maintenance is testing the changes, and much of the effort in testing is about evaluating changes. This course covers both themes quantitatively, with a solid basis in theory and with practical applications. Along the way, you will (i) learn when, where, and how to test software appropriately and effectively, (ii) have hands-on experience with test generation and test automation, and (iii) see how you can easily apply the concepts to any software testing situation.

Everyone can be successful in this course and I hope that developing an understanding of the field of software testing will help you build confidence, get excited about exploring and developing new testing approaches, and have a positive impact on your software-related profession.

image showing topics covered in this course
We focus on designing effective tests. We are not trying to train you in any 
specific test automation (or software development) frameworks.     
Programmers, software developers, and software engineers can always learn   
test automation frameworks by following and experimenting with the APIs. 
In CS 3250, we focus on how test engineers should design tests. 
You will explore a variety of test design concepts, 
apply the theories to design abstract tests, 
and automate the abstract tests using JUnit and Selenium.       
Along the way, you will be exposed to challenges in test automation 
and explore best practices in test automation.

By getting started with some of the most commonly used test automation frameworks 
(JUnit and Selenium), I hope to provide you with the fundamentals that can help you to 
explore additional test automation frameworks beyond what we cover in this course. 

Learning objectives

  • Be able to explain the quantitative, technical, and practical methods that software engineers and developers can use to test their software
  • Apply testing techniques and criteria to all phases of software development — unit (developer) testing, integration testing, system testing, etc.
  • Be able to analyze and assess the quality of software, and apply theoretical and practical knowledge of test criteria to improve the quality of software
  • Recognize good quantitative programming and design practices to ensure the software can be efficiently and effectively modified and tested
  • Realize that maintainability and testability are more important than efficiency for almost all modern software projects
  • Develop research and inquiry-based skills that can be used to learn, connect, and develop software testing phenomena
  • Communicate ideas with others within a group learning environment
image showing course goals


You must have passed CS 2150 (Program and Data Representation) or CS 2501 topic DSA2 with a grade of C- or better, or COVID CR grade. Please note: the CS student services staff will monitor and remove students not meeting prerequisites in courses in which they are enrolled.

Additional expectation

We will generate tests from mathematical models of the software. You will need knowledge of discrete math (sets, graphs, logic, and grammars), programming, data representation, and general knowledge of software engineering. You will need an understanding of the syntax and semantics of multiple programming languages. Most examples will be in Java and some assignments will require automated tests. Programming skills are required and you are expected to know Java or learn on your own. You are expected to have ability to pace yourself on a semester-long project and be able to attend class regularly.


Ammann and Offutt, Introduction to Software Testing (2nd edition), textbook cover
[Recommended]  Introduction to Software Testing (2nd edition), Paul Ammann and Jeff Offutt, Cambridge University Press, 2016. Book website (solution manual)

Where appropriate, additional references that can be relevant for further reading will be provided.

You should read the relevant material before class meeting. Doing so will allow you to ask specific questions in class that will further your understanding of the material and also better prepare you for class activities. The schedule for the readings is given on the Schedule page. The class meetings may not cover everything in the readings and will often include material not found in the readings (based on class discussion).

Learning activities

What you will do to succeed in learning?   To facilitate your learning process, the course structure consists of six main activities: hands-on activities, practice-of-the-days, homework assignments, showcase, quizzes, and final exam.

1. Hands-on activities

These hands-on activities scattered throughout the course serve as the main driver of your learning success. These activities help you to (i) understand the underlying concepts and apply them to test software, (ii) get started with specific concepts, technologies, tools, and frameworks, (iii) get ready to work on homework assignments and showcase, (iv) prepare for quizzes and final exam, and (v) practice skills test engineers need (such as technical skills, software evaluation, collaboration, and communication).

You are encouraged to work in small groups, allowing peer learning and imitating industrial software development and quality assurance scenarios.

Each activity is designed to get you to think about some specific aspect of the material we are learning that day. It helps you to develop competency in basic and advanced concepts. Throughout the course, you will have multiple opportunities to explore test generation tools and test automation frameworks and share your opinion through discussion and writing.

We will do hands-on activities almost every class meeting. They will not be graded.

You are the main driver of your learning success. Your engagement and participation is the most important aspect of your learning experience. Although no submission is required, you are encouraged to do all the activities. If you miss class, you should do the posted activity on your own to learn the material.

Hands-on activities will form the basis for POTDs, homework assignments, quizzes, and the final exam.

2. Practice-of-the-days (POTDs)

Five main purposes of this activity are to help you to (i) refine your thoughts and reinforce the concepts, (ii) assess your understanding, (iii) get ready to work on homework assignments and showcase, (iv) prepare for quizzes and final exam, and (v) practice skills test engineers need (such as technical skills, software evaluation, collaboration, and communication).

POTDs help you develop competency in basic and advanced concepts. This activity helps you to reinforce and assess your understanding of the concepts in recent classes. It also gives me an opportunity to work with you on any particular topics or skills that can be improved.

We will do POTDs on most Wednesdays and some Fridays. Most will be done in small groups and some will be individual exercises. You will submit your POTDs electronically. They will be graded on a completion basis. Full credit can only be received if it is complete and submitted by 1:00pm EST the next day. Any submission received after this time will be considered to be late. If you miss class, you should do the posted POTD on your own to learn the material.

POTDs will form the basis for homework assignments, quizzes, and the final exam.

3. Homework assignments

Homework assignments are the main mechanism to help you learn the fundamentals, apply the concepts, and experience the software testing process. Some homework assignments will be written and some will require programming. Most will allow collaboration with one partner to help you practice team working skills.

Assignments will be posted on the class website and discussed in class. You will submit your homework assignments electronically. More details on submission guidelines will be provided on the assignment pages.

Because each homework helps you develop competency in basic and advanced concepts, it is important that you manage your time wisely. All homework assignments must be submitted before class on the day they are due − this will also help you focus on the class discussion instead of being worried about the homework. Any submission received after this time will be considered to be late.

You are expected to have a backup disk (or storage somewhere) for every assignment you turn in. In this way, if there is any problem with the copy that is handed in, the backup can be used for grading purposes.

The UVA Honor Code is in effect. Please refer to the Collaboration and Professionalism sections of the course policies.

Homework assignments will form the basis for quizzes and the final exam.

4. Showcase

A showcase will provide you the opportunity to explore and experience software testing in practice. There are two options, please choose only one option:
  1. Test generation project — to provide you the opportunity to design and automate tests for a software project (you are encouraged to generate tests for a web app and mobile app -- we will discuss the criteria on the software project in class)
  2. Position paper — to expose you to advanced topics and challenges in software testing and give you the opportunity to learn more about an area of your interest

You may work on the showcase individually or with one partner. Descriptions will be provided on the showcase page.

To help you keep track of your progress, the showcase consists of several checkpoints (see the showcase page for more information). Because each checkpoint is a step toward your final deliverable and your professional development, it is important that you manage your time wisely. Due dates are specified on the Schedule and showcase description pages. No late submission will be accepted.

You are expected to have a backup disk (or storage somewhere) for every part of the showcase you turn in. In this way, if there is any problem with the copy that is handed in, the backup can be used for grading purposes.

The UVA Honor Code is in effect. Please refer to the Collaboration and Professionalism sections of the course policies.

5. Quizzes

We will have six quizzes and no midterm exam. The goals of the quizzes are to reinforce the concepts in recent classes and assess your understanding of recent topics / skills. This also allows me to work with you on any particular topics or skills that can be improved.

Quizzes will generally cover material from previous classes. Quiz guidelines will be posted on the Schedule page.

Quizzes will be given during the first 15 minutes of class on most Mondays and some Wednesdays.

No make-up or late quizzes will be given, and no dropped quiz. [18-Sep: correction -- The lowest quiz grade will be dropped]

The lowest (one out of six) quiz grade will be dropped. Five quizzes with the highest scores will be used to calculate the final grade.

To help you familiarize yourself and prepare for a paper-based final exam, quizzes are closed book / notes, paper-based, administered in class, no collaboration.

Quizzes will form the basis for the final exam.

6. Final Exam

Final exam is comprehensive, closed book / notes / web, paper-based, administered in class, no collaboration. The only exception is a single sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper (single / double sided, your choice) with hand-written notes by the person taking the exam.

Picture IDs are required to take the exam.

To request a make-up exam, please refer to the make-up exam policy.

 1. Set aside time and space for your studies. 
    Once you have selected that time and space, try to stick with your plan. 
    Pick a comfortable spot, as much as possible, don’t use that time or place for anything else.
 2. Make friends. Build our Software Testing community. 
    When possible, form a study/work group for the class.
 3. Attend class meeting. 
    Attending class meeting will help to establish your routine, put you in the learning mindset, 
    and remind you that you are learning in a community.
 4. Everyone brings diverse experiences, backgrounds, and opinions.  
    Let's learn, grow, and achieve our goals together.

Help yourself learn — Learn with purpose and vision !!

Intending to tailor our class to better support and emphasize your differences, energy, and passions, as well as to enhance your strengths, you are encouraged to be involved in designing and shaping this course to maximize your learning experience, skills, and knowledge. Please feel free to share your ideas / opinions / suggestions on things that we should do or try to help you learn software testing, using the Help yourself learn form.


How will your learning be evaluated?   The grade you will earn for this course will be based on how well you demonstrate your learning and understanding.

Assessment and evaluation

Your overall score will be mapped to a letter grade as follows:

You get If you score
A+ >= 98
A   >= 93
A-  >= 90
B+ >= 87
B   >= 83
B-  >= 80
C+ >= 77
C   >= 73
C-  >= 70
D+ >= 67
D   >= 63
D-  >= 60
F    < 60

By default, grades will not be rounded or curved in this course, and there is no grade bump.

Cheating / Plagiarism / Professionalism Penalty — up to 100% penalty
Excessive missed classes, rude behavior toward course staff (instructor and TAs) or classmates, unauthorized homework assistance, contacting TAs when they are not on the clock, etc., can be held against a student when final grades are calculated.

Class recordings

My current plan is to record synchronous lectures during the official meeting times and you will be able to catch up by viewing the recording. The recordings will be available under Panopto Video in UVa Canvas, accessible by Fall 2023 CS 3250 students and course staff. By default, the recordings will be made available within 24-48 hours after class. If the recordings are unavailable due to technical difficulty or any unavoidable reasons, I will happily work with you to make sure that you do not miss anything.

Note: If attendance drops, I may stop recording lectures; class recordings will not be available.

Per UVA policy on recording of class sessions, the University prohibits the recording of class sessions by students, regardless of purpose or modality. Students are not allowed to record class sessions / meetings / discussions, regardless of purpose or modality. "the University prohibits the recording of class sessions by students, regardless of purpose or modality, unless written permission has been obtained from the instructor, and all students in the class as well as guest speakers have been informed that recording will occur. Instructors may revoke permission at any time, and permission to allow a recording is not a transfer of any copyrights in the recording."

Discussion board

We will use Piazza for a discussion board. In addition to in-person assistance, this is the place where you can seek help, offer help, share your thoughts and discoveries, or discuss technical difficulties and potential troubleshooting. Information for accessing our class Piazza site will be provided on the first day of class. Ask all technical questions about the materials, activities, POTDs, homework assignments, or showcase on Piazza.

Posting program source code publicly will usually be considered an honor code violation. If you need to include a "fragment" of your code in your post, please make your post "private" and tag all instructors.

Updates to the course web page will generally be noted on the Piazza page.

You may post any reasonable class-related topics.
  • Real-life software failures: Start a discussion about a real-life software failure. Tell us what happened and how it affected users.
  • Real-life troubleshooting: Start a discussion about your experience, tutorial, suggestion, and troubleshooting that is related to our class
  • Application: Describe how one of the ideas from our testing class could have found a real-life software failure before the software was released.
  • Start a thread about an error in the handouts or slides
  • Start a thread about a topic that goes beyond what we discuss in class.
  • Post questions to an appropriate thread and they will be answered by instructor, TAs, or classmates.
  • Give an answer to a classmate's question.

Submission site

We will be using Gradescope for student submissions (POTDs, Homework Assignments, Showcase). If you have not used Gradescope before, you may find an introduction on how to use Gradescope video helpful. If you have any questions or encounter any issues, please post your questions or concerns in the course Piazza.

Academic integrity

The School of Engineering and Applied Science relies upon and cherishes its community of trust. We firmly endorse, uphold, and embrace the University’s Honor principle that students will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor shall they tolerate those who do. We recognize that even one honor infraction can destroy an exemplary reputation that has taken years to build. Acting in a manner consistent with the principles of honor will benefit every member of the community both while enrolled in the Engineering School and in the future.

Students are expected to be familiar with the university honor code, including the section on academic fraud. Each assignment will describe allowed collaborations, and deviations from these will be considered Honor violations. If you are in doubt regarding the requirements, please consult with me before you complete any requirement of this course. Unless otherwise noted, exams, quizzes, and individual assignments will be considered pledged that you have neither given nor received help. Among other things, this means that you are not allowed to describe problems on an exam (or a quiz) to a student who is currently taking or has not taken it yet. You are not allowed to show exam (or quiz) papers (or copies) to another student or view another student’s exam (or quiz) papers while working on an exam (or a quiz). Sending, receiving or otherwise copying electronic files that are part of course assignments are not allowed collaborations (except for those explicitly allowed in assignment instructions).

Assignments or exams where honor infractions or prohibited collaborations occur will receive a zero grade for that entire assignment or exam, as well as a full letter-grade penalty on the course grade. Such infractions will also be submitted to the Honor Committee if that is appropriate. Students who have had prohibited collaborations may not be allowed to work with partners on remaining homeworks.

SDAC and other special circumstances

The University of Virginia strives to provide accessibility to all students. If you require an accommodation to fully access this course, please contact the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) at 434-243-5180 or sdac@virginia.edu. If you are unsure if you require an accommodation, or to learn more about their services, you may contact the SDAC at the number above or by visiting their website at https://www.studenthealth.virginia.edu/sdac.

If you have been identified as an SDAC student, please let the Center know you are taking this class. If you suspect you should be an SDAC student, please schedule an appointment with them for an evaluation.

For this course, we ask that students with special circumstances let me know as soon as possible, preferably during the first week of class. Students who need academic accommodations should see me and contact the SDAC. All academic accommodations must be arranged through the SDAC.

Religious accommodations

It is the University's long-standing policy and practice to reasonably accommodate students so that they do not experience an adverse academic consequence when sincerely held religious beliefs or observances conflict with academic requirements.

Students who wish to request academic accommodation for a religious observance should submit their request in writing directly to their instructors by email as far in advance as possible. Students and instructors who have questions or concerns about academic accommodations for religious observance or religious beliefs may contact the University's Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) at UVAEOCR@virginia.edu or 434-924-3200.

Accommodations do not relieve you of the responsibility for completion of any part of the coursework missed as the result of a religious observance.

Safe environment

The University of Virginia is dedicated to providing a safe and equitable learning environment for all students. To that end, it is vital that you know two values that I and the University hold as critically important:

  1. Power-based personal violence will not be tolerated.
  2. Everyone has a responsibility to do their part to maintain a safe community on Grounds.

If you or someone you know has been affected by power-based personal violence, more information can be found on the UVA Sexual Violence website that describes reporting options and resources available - https://eocr.virginia.edu/.

As your instructor and as a person, know that I care about you and your well-being and stand ready to provide support and resources as I can. As a faculty member, I am a responsible employee, which means that I am required by University policy and federal law to report what you tell me to the University's Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator's job is to ensure that the reporting student receives the resources and support that they need, while also reviewing the information presented to determine whether further action is necessary to ensure survivor safety and the safety of the University community. If you would rather keep this information confidential, there are Confidential Employees you can talk to on Grounds (See https://justreportit.virginia.edu/). The worst possible situation would be for you or your friend to remain silent when there are so many here willing and able to help.

Student support team

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or isolated, there are many individuals here who are ready and wanting to help. The Student Health Center offers Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for all UVA students. Call 434-243-5150 (or 434-972-7004 for after hours and weekend crisis assistance) to get started and schedule an appointment. If you prefer to speak anonymously and confidentially over the phone, Madison House provides a HELP Line at any hour of any day: 434-295-8255.

If you or someone you know is struggling with gender, sexual, or domestic violence, there are many community and University of Virginia resources available. The Office of the Dean of Students, Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA), Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE), and UVA Women's Center are ready and eager to help. Contact the Director of Sexual and Domestic Violence Services at 434-982-2774.

There are many resources available to you when you experience academic or personal stresses. In addition to your instructor, the School of Engineering and Applied Science offers free tutoring, and has staff members located in Thornton Hall who you can contact to help manage academic or personal challenges. Please do not wait until the end of the semester to ask for help.


Health and wellbeing

  • Kelly Garrett, Assistant Dean of Students, Student Safety and Support, cmacmasters@virginia.edu
  • Elizabeth Ramirez-Weaver, CAPS counselor
  • Katie Fowler, CAPS counselor

You may schedule time with the CAPS counselors through Student Health When scheduling, be sure to specify that you are an Engineering student. You are also urged to use TimelyCare for either scheduled or on-demand 24/7 mental health care.

Community and Identity

The Center for Diversity in Engineering (CDE) is a student space dedicated to advocating for underrepresented groups in STEM. It exists to connect students with the academic, financial, health, and community resources they need to thrive both at UVA and in the world. The CDE includes an open study area, event space, and staff members on site. Through this space, we affirm and empower equitable participation toward intercultural fluency and provide the resources necessary for students to be successful during their academic journey and future careers.

Thanks to Professor Jeff Offutt and Professor Paul Ammann (GMU); Mr. Corey Vaudo and Mr. Conrad Rybka (Mastercard) for the input and material provided for this course; Professor Adriana Streifer and Professor Brian Helmke for suggestions on course redesign and improvement; and Professor Robbie Hott for the COVID-19 policies.
Copyright © 2023 Upsorn Praphamontripong

Released under the Creative Commons License CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.

Last updated 2023-08-20 18:34