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Monash University

FIT5168 Semi-structured data management - Semester 1, 2013

This unit investigates the management of semi-structured data. The unit explores the modelling of semi-structured data in XML using XML Schema and the transformation of such data using XSLT. It looks at methods for storing, querying and updating semi-structured data in both native-XML and object-relational database management systems and the design issues involved.

Mode of Delivery

Caulfield (Day)

Contact Hours

2 hrs lectures/wk, 2 hrs laboratories/wk

Workload requirements

Workload commitments for this unit per week:

  • two-hour lecture
  • two-hour tutorial
  • a minimum 6-8 hours of personal study including meeting time to complete group assignments.

Unit Relationships


Recommended knowledge: Knowledge of relational database.

Chief Examiner

Campus Lecturer


Viranga Ratnaike



Bang Nguyen

Shamim Hossain

Shan Dora He

Academic Overview

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this unit students will:
  • understand the differences between structured and semi-structured data;
  • know how to manage data that is not be appropriately modelled by the relational model;
  • be able to design data repositories for XML documents;
  • be able to apply appropriate technology to manage and transform XML data;
  • be able to use current DBMS to store, retrieve and update non-relational data;
  • appreciate strengths and weaknesses of object-relational and native XML DBMS for handling XML.

Unit Schedule

Week Activities Assessment
0   No formal assessment or activities are undertaken during week 0
1 Introducing semi-structured data and XML  
2 Data Modelling and Defining XML Datatypes in XML Schema  
3 Advanced XML Schema  
4 Document Engineering and XML Namespaces  
5 XML Path Expressions using XPath  
6 Transforming XML with XSLT Assignment 1: Designing an XML repository due Friday 19 April 2013
7 (No lecture/tutorials due to Anzac Day)  
8 Advanced XSLT  
9 Querying XML  
10 Storing XML in a Database  
11 Querying and Updating XML in a Database  
12 Parsing XML and Metadata Standards Assignment 2: Designing XSLT transformations due Friday 31 May 2013
  SWOT VAC No formal assessment is undertaken in SWOT VAC
  Examination period LINK to Assessment Policy: http://policy.monash.edu.au/policy-bank/

*Unit Schedule details will be maintained and communicated to you via your learning system.

Assessment Summary

Examination: 50%; In-semester assessment: 50%

Assessment Task Value Due Date
Designing an XML repository 30% Friday 19 April 2013
Designing XSLT transformations 20% Friday 31 May 2013
Examination 1 50% To be advised

Teaching Approach

Lecture and tutorials or problem classes
The teaching of this unit will consist of lectures, tutorials, self-study and group work. The main concepts of the unit will be delivered during lectures. Practical exercises on the concepts will be carried out during tutorials. It is expected that students will attempt the tutorial exercises prior to attending the tutorial classes. The tutorial classes will be used to discuss problems encountered while completing the exercises or to discuss important issues that students may need to be aware of in completing the exercises.

Although tutorials are not compulsory, it is the student's responsibility to attend and participate in tutorial discussion as tutorials are the preferred venue for clarification and queries on the topics. Unless students have good reasons to miss tutorial classes no consultation outside tutorial classes will be provided in regards to the tutorial exercises and discussion.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Policy

Faculty Policy - Unit Assessment Hurdles (http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/staff/edgov/policies/assessment-examinations/unit-assessment-hurdles.html)

Academic Integrity - Please see the Demystifying Citing and Referencing tutorial at http://lib.monash.edu/tutorials/citing/

Assessment Tasks


  • Assessment task 1
    Designing an XML repository
    This assessment aims to evaluate the students' abilities in designing an XML repository, consisting of XML documents and their associated XML schemas.

    This is a group assignment. A group will consist of 2 students.
    Criteria for assessment:

    Explanation of the design process that the student followed in producing the repository and the reasoning behind any design decisions made.

    The correctness and robustness of the design (XML Schema) produced.

    The correctness of the XML document instances according to the schema.

    The tutor will monitor individual contributions to the group when allocating marks to members of the group.

    Due date:
    Friday 19 April 2013
  • Assessment task 2
    Designing XSLT transformations
    This assessment aims to evaluate the students' abilities in using transformation languages to access and manipulate data from an XML repository. The assessment tasks will include the design of several XSLT transformations.

    This is a group assignment. A group consists of 2 students.
    Criteria for assessment:

    The creation of declarative scripts that enable the appropriate data to be retrieved in the correct format from an XML repository.

    The correct use of XSLT constructs.

    The tutor will monitor individual contributions to the group when allocating marks to members of the group.

    Due date:
    Friday 31 May 2013


  • Examination 1
    2 hours
    Type (open/closed book):
    Closed book
    Electronic devices allowed in the exam:
    Quick reference guide on XML Schema and XSLT will be provided as part of the exam booklet.

Learning resources

Reading list

The recommended readings of this unit will be provided weekly through Moodle.

Monash Library Unit Reading List

Feedback to you

Types of feedback you can expect to receive in this unit are:
  • Informal feedback on progress in labs/tutes
  • Graded assignments with comments

Extensions and penalties

Returning assignments

Assignment submission

It is a University requirement (http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/conduct/plagiarism-procedures.html) for students to submit an assignment coversheet for each assessment item. Faculty Assignment coversheets can be found at http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/student/forms/. Please check with your Lecturer on the submission method for your assignment coversheet (e.g. attach a file to the online assignment submission, hand-in a hard copy, or use an online quiz).

Online submission

If Electronic Submission has been approved for your unit, please submit your work via the learning system for this unit, which you can access via links in the my.monash portal.

Other Information


Graduate Attributes Policy

Student services

Monash University Library

Disability Liaison Unit

Students who have a disability or medical condition are welcome to contact the Disability Liaison Unit to discuss academic support services. Disability Liaison Officers (DLOs) visit all Victorian campuses on a regular basis.

Your feedback to Us

Previous Student Evaluations of this Unit

Based on previous student feedback this unit is well structured and no changes have been made for this semester.

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