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Foundations of Software Testing


Admission requirements

Assumed prior knowledge

Students are assumed to have good knowledge of object oriented programming concepts and to be able to programming in either Java, Python, or C++.


Software testing is the process of executing a program with the intent of finding errors. Most of the defects in software are design errors, due not to the goodness of programmers, but because the complexity of software is becoming intractable. Testing is more than just debugging. Testing is not only used to locate defects and correct them. It is also used in validation and verification of software systems.

The course is an introduction to the foundations software testing and to software testing activities, without using a specific methodology or technology. In particular we will discuss several coverage criteria, and techniques for the generation of concrete test cases, such as symbolic execution. The focus of the course is on unit testing of object-oriented system, so to understand how a class can be tested in isolation.

During the course students will learn state of the art techniques and methods used for testing today’s programs. Students are expected to participate to a critical discussion in class. Small exercises to test the understanding of the material will be given as homework or to be done in class. At the end of the course students will be grouped in small teams with the goal of implementing a prototype test environment for unit testing a class in Java, Python, or C++.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students are expected to understand the fundamentals of software testing, the basic test types and activities, the principles behind testing coverage criteria, the theoretical foundations of symbolic execution for test case generation. Further, students will have a deep understanding of unit testing in the context of object-orientation, and will be able to design and program in teams (part of) a test environment for unit testing, in which classes can be tested in isolation.


The most recent timetable can be found at the Computer Science (MSc) student website.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, exercise classes, and a final hackathon.

Course load

Total hours of study: 168 hrs. (= 6 EC)
Lectures: 26:00 hrs.
Practical work: 34:00 hrs.
Examination: 8:00 hrs.
Self-study/Homework: 100:00 hrs.

Assessment method

The final grade is a combination of grades for (1) In-class participation (10%), (2) the in-class exercises (40%), and (3) the programming assignment (hackathon) (50%).

Solutions and inspection of the in-class exercises will be discussed in class. It is important to be present at the hackathon, which will only take place once (see timetable). Failing of the hackathon can be reapaired with a retake that is valid for 100% of the grade and consists of exercises on the topics treated in class.

Reading list

  • P. Ammann and J. Offutt, Introduction to software testing, (2nd edition) Cambridge University Press, 2016. ISBN 978-1-107-17201-2

  • Slides and some lecture notes will be provided to the students for download.


Student has to register for this course using the enrollment tool MyStudyMap. FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Lecturer: Prof.dr. Marcello Bonsangue.


Information about the course, including scheduling, partial grades, and news is distributed via the Brighspace page of the course.