Automated Generation and Inference of Unit Tests for Legacy Software

Qualification: PhD

Department: School of Informatics

Application deadline: 14 April 2021

Start date: September 2021



Project description:

BT is faced with a considerable estate of legacy software, either through its own creation or acquisition, which contains many valuable algorithms and components. Successful refactoring of these legacy systems to for example microservice architectures can be very challenging as it critical the new system functionally behaves the same as the original. A detailed test-harness for the original system generally provides the most insight, however most legacy code within BT lack a comprehensive test harness.

This project will focus on generating unit tests for legacy systems using functional specifications and historical data. This will allow BT developers to quickly fit legacy systems with a test-harness that can guide refactoring and guard against undesired regressions. This will also provide developers with significantly faster insight into the legacy system as well as improve refactoring time.

The PhD candidate will conduct at least one placement at BT (Adastral Park) in order to gain further insight into legacy code bases at BT and to explore their software architecture and historical data.


Carlos Diego Nascimento Damasceno, Mohammad Reza Mousavi, Adenilso da Silva Simão:
Learning to Reuse: Adaptive Model Learning for Evolving Systems. IFM 2019: 138-156

Sina Shamshiri, José Miguel Rojas, Juan Pablo Galeotti, Neil Walkinshaw, Gordon Fraser:
How Do Automatically Generated Unit Tests Influence Software Maintenance? ICST 2018: 250-261

Sina Shamshiri, José Miguel Rojas, Luca Gazzola, Gordon Fraser, Phil McMinn, Leonardo Mariani, Andrea Arcuri: Random or evolutionary search for object-oriented test suite generation? Softw. Test. Verification Reliab. 28(4) (2018)

José Miguel Rojas, Gordon Fraser, Andrea Arcuri: Automated unit test generation during software development: a controlled experiment and think-aloud observations. ISSTA 2015: 338-349

Sina Shamshiri, René Just, José Miguel Rojas, Gordon Fraser, Phil McMinn, Andrea Arcuri:
Do Automatically Generated Unit Tests Find Real Faults? An Empirical Study of Effectiveness and Challenges (T). ASE 2015: 201-211







This 4-year PhD studentship provides:

  • UK/EU tuition fee waiver
  • Annual stipend at UKRI rates (£15,609 for 2021/22)

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

UK Bachelor's degree at 2:1 (or equivalent from non-UK universities) or above in a relevant subject.

University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Project enquiries:

Application enquiries:

How to apply

How to apply

To submit your application, please use the 'Apply' button at the bottom of the page and select September 2021 from the dropdown menu.

With your application, please include:

  • CV
  • Personal statement explaining your interest in the project, your experience and why we should consider you
  • Degree Certificates and Transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
  • Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
  • In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available
  • In the funding section please specify that you wish to be considered for an 'EPSRC studentship'.
  • In the research proposal section please provide the names of the project supervisors and project title (a research proposal is not required)



UK/EU candidates only

For further details, please refer to: