Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code COMP310
Coordinator Dr TR Payne
Computer Science
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2017-18 Level 6 FHEQ Second Semester 15


  1. To introduce the student to the concept of an agent and  multi-agent systems, and the main applications for which they are appropriate;
  2. To introduce the main issues surrounding the design of intelligent agents;
  3. To introduce the main issues surrounding the design of a multi-agent society.
  4. To introduce a contemporary platform for implementing agents and multi-agent systems.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the notion of an agent, how agents are distinct from other software paradigms (eg objects) and understand the characteristics of applications that lend themselves to an agent-oriented solution;
  2. Understand the key issues associated with constructing agents capable of intelligent autonomous action, and the main approaches taken to developing such agents;
  3. Understand the key issues in designing societies of agents that can effectively cooperate in order to solve problems, including an understanding of the key types of multi-agent interactions possible in such systems
  4. Understand the main application areas of agent-based solutions, and be able to develop a meaningful agent-based system using a contemporary agent development platform.



1       Introduction (1 week)

  • what is an agent?:  agents and objects; agents and expert systems; agents and distributed systems; typical application areas for agent systems.

2    Intelligent Agents (3 weeks)

  • the design of intelligent agents – reasoning agents (eg AgentO), agents as reactive systems (eg subsumption architecture); hybrid agents (eg PRS); layered agents (eg Interrap)
  •  a contemporary (Java-based) framework for programming agents (eg the Jack language, the JAM! system).

3   Multi-Agent Systems (5 weeks)

  • Classifying multi-agent interactions – cooperative versus non-cooperative; zero-sum and other interactions; what is cooperation? how cooperation occurs – the Prisoner’s dilema and Axelrod''s experiments; (1 week)
  • Interactions between self-interested agents:  auctions & voting systems:  negotiation; (2 weeks)
  • Interactions between benevolent agents:  cooperative distributed problem solving (CDPS), partial global planning; coherence and coordination; (1 week)
  • Interaction languages and protocols:  speech acts, KQML/KIF, the FIPA framework. (1 week)

 4      Advanced topics (2 weeks):

  • One issue selected from the contemporary research literature, perhaps by guest lecturer.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lecture -

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 30

Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 120


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Written Exam  2.5 hours  100  At the next normal opportunity.  N/A  Assessment 1 Notes (applying to all assessments) Written examination  
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
Explanation of Reading List: