Computer Systems - CO324

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
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4 15 (7.5) MR GEW Tripp
Medway Autumn
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4 15 (7.5) PROF IV McLoughlin







14. A synopsis of the curriculum
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental behaviour and components (hardware and software) of a typical computer system, and how they collaborate to manage resources and provide services. The module has two strands: ‘Hardware Architecture’ and ‘Operating Systems and Networks,’ which form around 35% and 65% of the material respectively. Both strands contain material which is of general interest to computer users; quite apart from their academic value, they will be useful to anyone using any modern computer system.
Hardware Architecture
Data representation: Bits, bytes and words. Numeric and non-numeric data. Number representation.
Computer architecture: Fundamental building blocks (logic gates, flip-flops, counters, registers). The fetch/execute cycle. Instruction sets and types.
Data storage: Memory hierarchies and associated technologies. Physical and virtual memory.
Operating Systems and Networks
Operating systems principles. Abstractions. Processes and resources. Security. Application Program Interfaces.
Device interfaces: Handshaking, buffering, programmed and interrupt-driven i/o. Direct Memory Access.
File Systems: Physical structure. File and directory organisation, structure and contents. Naming hierarchies and access. Backup.
Background and history of networking and the Internet.
Networks and protocols: LANs and WANs, layered protocol design. The TCP/IP protocol stack; theory and practice. Connection-oriented and connectionless communication. Unicast, multicast and broadcast. Naming and addressing. Application protocols; worked examples: SMTP, HTTP).


This module appears in:

Contact hours

22 lectures, 6 terminal sessions

Preliminary reading

English, John, Introduction to operating systems : behind the desktop, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
Mueller, Scott, Upgrading and Repairing PCs (20th edition), Que, 2011

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

Describe the purpose of, and the interaction between, the functional hardware and software components of a typical computer system.
Identify the principal hardware components and software services which provide infrastructure for the Internet from the global scale down to the desktop;
Describe how networks interact with operating systems and applications to provide services and share resources among individual systems.

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