UNIT 31:Knowledge-based Systems

Unit 31:Knowledge-based Systems

Unit code:J/601/0459

QCF Level 5:BTEC Higher National

Credit value:15U


The aim of this unit is to develop the learner's understanding of knowledge systems, their relationship with artificial intelligence and their utilisation by expert systems. Learners will use this understanding to develop a knowledge-based application.

Unit abstract

Knowledge-based systems encompass expert systems tools and techniques and incorporate artificial intelligence. This area is rapidly expanding into new and advanced environments such as science, education and medicine where there is a need for more complex and sophisticated systems.

The types of system available are constantly evolving and it is the expectation that learners will engage in extensive research into existing and emerging technologies that fall under the umbrella of knowledge systems.

On completion of this unit, learners should be able to appreciate the value and contribution of knowledge-based systems and their importance in many critical environments. Learners will also engage with artificial intelligence languages, knowledge-based systems and shells to develop and design their own applications.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit a learner will:

1     Understand knowledge-based systems

2     Be able to design knowledge-based applications

3     Be able to develop knowledge-based applications.

Unit content

1     Understand knowledge-based systems

Knowledge base: components eg data, rules and structure; human readable eg Microsoft troubleshooter software, FAQs; machine readable, structured data with entity relationships eg medical diagnostics, mortgage selection

Knowledge management: techniques eg data mining; gathering, organising, refining and disseminating information

Artificial Intelligence (AI): simulation of human intelligence by computer systems; use of knowledge bases within AI; traits eg reasoning, learning; applications of AI eg expert systems, speech recognition, share trading, video games, web search engines

Expert systems: inference rules; architecture; people eg end-user, subject matter expert, expert system engineer or programmer; applications eg medicine, financial services, accounting, chess

2     Be able to design knowledge-based applications

Investigative techniques: use a range of investigative techniques to review current applications

System elements: using a ‘shell’ as a framework for development eg eGanges

Design and planning: use of an appropriate design method eg rules, frames, nets

Language elements: skills as required for the language used

3     Be able to develop knowledge-based applications

All development languages: based on eg Lisp, Prolog, IPL, C++

Development: use of appropriate language to create an application; develop an application using the system/shell

Testing: test strategy; recording results

Documentation: documenting of the application to set standards

Learning outcomes and assessment criteria

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit a learner will:

Assessment criteria for pass

The learner can:


Understand knowledge-based systems

1.1 analyse a real-world knowledge-based system, detailing:

i      data, rules and structure

ii     how the knowledge is managed

iii    how artificial intelligence traits are incorporated into the system

iv    how an expert system is created from utilising the knowledge base and including AI traits


Be able to design knowledge-based applications

2.1 plan the design of an application using an AI development language

2.2 identify the screen components and data and file structures required to implement a given design

2.3 design knowledge base, rules and structure of the application


Be able to develop knowledge-based applications

3.1 implement the application

3.2 implement data validation for inputs

3.3 identify and implement opportunities for error handling and reporting
3.4 design and implement a test strategy

3.5 create documentation to support users.


Links to National Occupational Standards, other BTEC units, other BTEC qualifications and other relevant units and qualifications

The learning outcomes associated with this unit are closely linked with:

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

Unit 24: Controlling Systems using IT

Unit 9: Systems Analysis and Design

Unit 39: Computer Games Design and Development

Unit 10: Human Computer Interaction

Unit 40: Distributed Software Applications

Unit 41: Programming in Java

Unit 42: Programming in .NET

This unit has links to the Level 4 and Level 5 National Occupational Standards for IT and Telecoms Professionals, particularly the areas of competence of:

•     Human Needs Analysis •       Systems Analysis
•     HCI Design

•     Software Development

•     IT Application Management/Support.

Essential requirements

Learners must have access to a range of organisational environments that are using or planning on implementing a knowledge-based system. Specific commercial, medical or academic domains would also be of benefit as expert systems have already been established in these fields.

In addition to more traditional texts, journals and case studies would complement this unit. Learners must also keep up to date with current systems developments in the fiel



Akerkar R Knowledge Based Systems (Jones and Bartlett, 2009) ISBN-10: 0763776475

Barski C Land of LISP (No Starch Press, 2010) ISBN-10: 1593272006

Bratko I Prolog Programming for Artificial Intelligence, 3rd Edition (Addison Wesley, 2000) ISBN-10: 0201403757

Negnevitsky M Artificial Intelligence: A Guide to Intelligent Systems (Addison Wesley, 2004) ISBN-10: 0321204662

Seibel P Practical Common Lisp (Apress, 2005) ISBN-10: 1590592395

Employer engagement and vocational contexts

To further enrich the content of this unit and to provide more of a vocational context it would be beneficial to bring in analysts or employers from organisations that have had exposure to systems analysis.