MSE Master of Science in Engineering

The Swiss engineering master's degree

Each module contains 3 ECTS. You choose a total of 10 modules/30 ECTS in the following module categories: 

  • 12-15 ECTS in technical scientific modules (TSM)
    TSM modules teach profile-specific specialist skills and supplement the decentralised specialisation modules.
  • 9-12 ECTS in fundamental theoretical principles modules (FTP)
    FTP modules deal with theoretical fundamentals such as higher mathematics, physics, information theory, chemistry, etc. They will teach more detailed, abstract scientific knowledge and help you to bridge the gap between abstraction and application that is so important for innovation.
  • 6-9 ECTS in context modules (CM)
    CM modules will impart additional skills in areas such as technology management, business administration, communication, project management, patent law, contract law, etc.

In the module description (download pdf) you find the entire language information per module divided into the following categories:

  • instruction
  • documentation
  • examination 
Software Assurance (TSM_SoftwAs)

Students shall gain an overview over current methods for software assurance. This includes

  • automatic test case minimisation;
  • negative test case generation ("fuzzing");
  • side channels and their avoidance ("constant-time computing");
  • security implications when designing safety systems
  • exposure to standards-compliant software development;
  • software verification and validation;
  • safe testing according to the standards; and
  • fault tolerance.



Students will need knowledge in software engineering, specifically  testing.

Students will need to be reasonably fluent in a variety of languages  including but not limited to C and Python. Knowledge of some assembly (e.g., x86, x86-64, or ARM) will be advantageous.

Students will need to be familiar with the idea that there are  standards for software development and testing.

Learning Objectives

  • Students can apply test case minimisation techniques to their own test cases.
  • Students know how fuzzing works, to what class of faults it applies, how to interpret its output, and how to use it in their own projects.
  • Students know that side channels exist and how they are exploited, that they are a serious danger to software assurance and security, and how to avoid certain types of side channel, especially those that have to do with variable-time computation based on secret inputs.
  • Students know about the safety life cycle according to IEC 61508 and its adaptation to automotive security in ISO 26262, and can apply it in their own projects.
  • Students can apply probabilistic methods used to estimate the impact of device failures on overall safety.
  • Students know what options there are to certify, validate, and verify software components, and what that means.

Contents of Module

  • Safety life cycle according to IEC 61508 (2 lectures)
  • Application of ISC 61508 to automotive software (ISO 26262) (1 lecture)
  • Probabilistic methods to estimate impact of failure (2 lectures)
  • Certification, validation, and verification of software (2 lectures)
  • Test cases and their minimisation (2 lectures)
  • Negative test case generation ("fuzzing") (2 lectures)
  • Side channels (3 lectures)

Teaching and Learning Methods

Lectures will be part ex-cathedra, part in-class exercises. These

exercises are designed to be done either individually or in groups and

can therefore be done remotely.


Andreas Zeller, Why Programs Fail. Morgan Kaufman. Second

Edition, 1770. (Yes, that's the date that Amazon has for the book. In reality, the second edition is from 2008.)

Ari Takanen, Fuzzing for Software Security Testing and Quality

Assurance. Artech House Publishers. Second Edition, 2018.

Seokhie Hong (Ed.), Side Channel Attacks. MDPI. 2019.

David J. Smith and Kenneth G. L. Simpson, The Safety Critical Systems

Handbook: A Straightforward Guide to Functional Safety: IEC 61508

(2010 Edition), IEC 61511 (2015 Edition) and Related Guidance. Butterworth-Heisman. Fifth edition, 2020.

Download full module description