Course Description and Objectives

This course will introduce the basic concepts underlying systems analysis, focusing on contextual inquiry/design and data modeling, and the application of those analysis techniques in the analysis and design of organizational information systems. Open to SILS graduate and undergraduate students. SILS undergraduate students must have successfully completed INLS 382, Information Systems Analysis and Design. Open to non-SILS students with permission of instructor.

Students completing this course will:

Rationale and Approach

Systems Analysis is all about problem solving. What is the information system doing now? What should it be doing? What needs to change to make it do the right thing? How can we best implement the changes? These are the fundamental questions whether you're fixing a broken system, adding new functionality to an existing system, or designing an entirely new system. The purpose of this course is to help you gain the knowledge, tools, and skills you need to answer these questions and design effective information systems.

The material we cover includes the theories that help explain information systems and people's interaction with them, tools and techniques for analysis and design, and best practices for systems analysis projects. Readings include research articles, case studies, and documentation for specific modeling techniques. A major part of the work for this class is analyzing an information system problem and designing a solution for a real client. This group project gives real-life experience in information system problem solving. Individual assignments provide additional practice on specific techniques.

Your work for this class falls into 3 categories:

  1. Preparation for class,
  2. in-class activities, and
  3. individual and group assignments.

Your preparation for each class meeting is the key to getting the most out of each class's activities.

Preparing for Class Sessions and Readings

The schedule describes what you should do to prepare for each class meeting, including reading, reviewing slides, practicing skills or techniques, and thinking. Readings include chapters from the textbook (Contextual Design), documentation or manuals for specific models and analysis techniques, and research papers, issue articles, and case studies.

The textbook for the course is available electronically through the UNC Library as well as on Reserve at the SILS Library. Other readings are available through the UNC Library, Sakai, E-Reserves or online; the course schedule contains links to the readings.

You are welcome to work together to prepare for each class. As you prepare for class, think about:

In-class Activities

This course will meet on Mondays from 12:20-3:05. A typical class will have the following components:

Assignments and Evaluation

For this class, you will complete individual and team assignments. Individual assignments will provide more opportunities for practicing specific skills, and let you demonstrate to me what you have learned. Team assignments are the deliverables for your project.

Detailed instructions for each assignment will be made available in Sakai (Sakai Resources) when the assignments are given. All assignments will be submitted to Sakai.

Helpful hints

Plan ahead! Success in this course requires the same kind of project management that your team project does.

Coordinate the work schedule for this class with the schedules for your other classes, work, and other activities. You are likely to have many deadlines toward the end of the semester, so it's important for you to keep up.

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for each class. If you are not prepared for class, you will not be able to fully participate in (and benefit from) the in-class activities.

There is often more than one good or correct way to develop a model or design for a given situation. There are always many more bad and incorrect ways to do so!

By the end of the course, I hope you will have learned the fundamentals of systems analysis and design, developed a toolbox of tools and techniques as well as the knowledge of when to use them, and produced a proposal that will solve an information problem for a real client. Information system problems are pervasive in our society: what you learn here may help you in many aspects of your future endeavors.


Be on time and prepared for class. I will be prepared for class and start class on time. I expect the same of you.

Attend class. You are expected to attend all class sessions. Absences or tardiness will lower your participation grade – you cannot participate if you are not present. In addition, absences and tardiness are unprofessional – how would your manager and co-workers respond?

If you must miss a class unexpectedly, please let me know before class (as soon as possible). You are responsible for learning what you missed from a classmate.

Be an active participant. I expect engaged and active participation in class, including full class discussions, small group discussions, in-class exercises. Similarly, you are expected to be an active participant in your project teams. There are many ways to participate: asking questions, responding to questions, sharing related work experience, or listening to others' ideas and facilitating discussions and exercises to make sure everyone has a chance to participate.

Participation counts for a percentage of your final grade; however, quality is more important than quantity.

Demonstrate your learning, skills and professionalism in your assignments and deliverables. Submit your assignments on time and pay attention to detail. Be sure to proofread your assignments for accuracy, clarity and completeness.

Ask questions. If there is something you don't understand, ask! Ask a question during class, come to my office hours, or contact me by email.


Assignment Deadlines

Submit assignments in .pdf format using the Assignments tool in Sakai. If you encounter any problems submitting through Sakai, it is your responsibility to let me know as soon as possible and before the deadline.

Assignments are due by noon on the day that they due unless a different time is specified.

Late assignments will be penalized 10% per day and no assignments will be accepted more than 3 days (72 hours) after the deadline.

Requests for an extension may be granted in extenuating circumstances. Please contact me as soon as possible to request an extension. Only in rare circumstances will an extension be granted without an advance request.

For example, an assignment that would be 96% (H) if submitted on time would be given an 86% (P) if submitted Monday after 12:20pm, 76% (L) if submitted Tuesday after 5pm, a 66% (F) if submitted Wednesday after 12:20pm and 0 (F) after 12:20pm on Thursday.

Academic Integrity and the UNC Honor Code

UNC Chapel Hill has had a student-administered honor system and judicial system for over 100 years. Because academic honesty and the development and nurturing of trust and trustworthiness are important to all of us as individuals, and are encouraged and promoted by the honor system, this is a most significant University tradition.

The UNC Honor Code, which prohibits giving or receiving unauthorized aid in the completion of assignments, is in effect in this class. The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance gives examples of actions that constitute academic dishonesty. You are responsible for being familiar with the UNC-CH Honor System.

There are some specific guidelines for this class.

Be careful about plagiarism. Whenever you use the words or ideas of others, either as direct quotes or paraphrased text, they should be properly attributed through quotations and/or citations. A handout on plagiarism developed by the UNC Writing Center provides an overview of plagiarism and offers suggestions for avoiding it.

You must sign (check) the honor statement when you submit each assignment. This confirms that you and the work conforms to the Honor Code. Please contact me if you have any questions about the Honor Code or its application to your work in this class.

If your team is having difficulty with some aspect of your project, please come to see me. One of the educational outcomes of this class should be an increase in your effectiveness in getting advice from more experienced colleagues.

Electronic Devices

You are not required to bring your computer to every class although it is recommended.

In-class activities will often involve creating models or taking notes in groups to report back to class. You may use your computer, tablet or pen/paper.

Please use your laptops or other electronic devices only to support your class participation. Please do not engage in e-mail, social media or other distracting activities.


The official course website is It contains the course syllabus and schedule.

Announcements will be posted on Sakai. It is your responsibility to check the Sakai site for announcements, messages and class materials. I recommend configuring your notifications so that you receive each announcement notification separately (Sakai My Workspace > Preferences > Notifications).

Email is the most efficient way to communicate with the instructor outside of class for brief questions or notes. Normally, you should expect a response within 24 hours.

Office hours are by appointment. I am available during office hours and, by appointment, at other times.


In support of the University's diversity goals and the mission of the School of Information and Library Science, SILS embraces diversity as an ethical and societal value. We broadly define diversity to include race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, religion, social class, age, sexual orientation, and physical and learning ability. As an academic community committed to preparing our graduates to be leaders in an increasingly multicultural and global society we strive to:


The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill facilitates the implementation of reasonable accommodations, including resources and services, for students with disabilities, chronic medical conditions, a temporary disability or pregnancy complications resulting in difficulties with accessing learning opportunities.

All accommodations are coordinated through the Accessibility Resources and Service Office. Please be aware that the registration process can take some time, so please contact the Accessibility Resources and Service Office as early in the semester as possible.


UNC-CH graduate students are graded on the H/P/L/F scale. The following definitions of these grades will be used for this course. While assignments are not graded "on a curve," most grades for graduate students are expected to be Ps.

Additional information about grading at UNC can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin and the Graduate School Handbook.

Grading scale for INLS 583 (graduate students)
Letter grade Numeric range Description of grade
H 95-100 High Pass: Clear excellence; beyond expectations for the course.
P 80-94 Pass: Entirely satisfactory; fully meets expectations for the course.
L 70-79 Low Pass: Minimally acceptable; clear weaknesses in performance.
F Below 70 Fail: Unacceptable performance.
IN NA Work incomplete.
Grading scale for INLS 583 (undergraduate students)
Letter grade Numeric range
A 95-100
A- 90-94
B+ 88-89
B 86-87
B- 84-85
C+ 82-83
C 80-81
C- 78-79
D+ 74-77
D 70-73
F Below 70