COMP 320/420—Systems Analysis

Instructor, time, & place

Conrad Weisert
Mondays 4:15 P.M. - 6:45 P.M.
Corboy 105

General Description

Systems Analysis is less concrete than programming, but equally difficult. If you're accustomed to seeing your programming work validated by test results from the computer, you'll find the work here more subjective. For many parts of a systems analyst's work there is no unique correct result, but some results are clearly much better or more useful than others.

As shown in the accompanying week-by-week schedule, in the first half of the course we shall:

In the second half we'll form teams of three or four students to develop a cohesive set of detailed requirements (also called functional specifications or external system design), integrating the methods we learned in the first half. Teams will have a choice of applications, and team members may play various roles during the project.

Controversies and options

Systems analysis methodologies, both the processes and the documentation techniques, are currently the subject of evolutionary change and heated controversy among experts. In addition to presenting and following a mainstream methodology, we will describe and briefly discuss some of the alternative approaches that are currently in vogue.

If you prefer to follow one of those alternative approaches, perhaps because your employer has adopted it, you may do so in the course. However, you must understand the mainstream approach we're presenting and be able to state definite reasons for deviating from it. You should declare your intent before the project begins, so that we can try to assign you to a team with like-minded students.

Assignments and project

In the first half we shall do a short assignment each week, due two weeks after being given. These short assignments will reinforce your command of the tools and techniques just discussed. Late assignments will be accepted subject to a one-letter-grade penalty until the session following the due date.

In the second half you'll concentrate on your team's project.


We'll need diagramming tools:

You can use any text processor for prose documentation, and you may want to use a spreadsheet processor to maintain information in a tabular form. However, non-Visio files submitted as part of your assignments must be in .pdf, .doc, or .xls form or printed on paper. (Others may be acceptable by prior arrangement with the instructor.)

Textbook and other reading


James & Susan Robertson: Complete Systems Analysis, 1994, Dorset House, ISBN 0-932633-25-0 If you run into difficulty obtaining a copy, you can contact the publisher directly or try Amazon.

Specific reading assignments are given in our week-by-week schedule. In order to conserve class time, you should study each session's assigned reading before that session and come to class prepared to ask questions about anything that you don't fully understand and agree with.

Recommended supplementary reading

Dan Pilone & Neil Pitman: UML2 in a Nutshell, O'Reilly, 2005, ISBN 978-0-596-00795-9


Since most of the material will be presented and discussed in our class sessions and we meet only once a week, you'll be at a serious disadvantage if you miss a session. No amount of reading can substitute for participation in the class sessions.

If you have to miss one or more sessions, please confer with the instructor as early as possible to determine how best to master the material you missed.


The final examination will cover the full course content, including major issues from the project and team presentations.

A mid-term examination (before the withdraw deadline) will confirm your mastery of the mainstream concepts discussed up that point.

I may give an occasional brief quiz at the beginning of class to verify your understanding of some important point raised in the previous session or in the assigned reading.


The usual criteria stated in this grading policy apply to this course, modified by Loyola's ability to record + or -.

Course components will be weighted as follows:
Final Examination 24 points
Mid-Term Examination 14 points
Team project22 points1
Homework and workshop exercises (6) 6 points each2
Class participation and mini-quizzes4 points

1—All members of a team will get the same project grade unless the team reports disproportionate participation.
2—There will be 7 assignments; the worst grade won't be counted.

Last modified September 5, 2015