Systems Architecture - COMP8830

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 7 15 (7.5) Frank Wang checkmark-circle


This module covers the fundamental components (hardware and software) of a typical computer system, and how they collaborate to execute programs. The module provides a comprehensive overview, from the lowest level of abstractions in hardware to the highest level of abstractions of modern programming languages. Examples of topics that may be covered include logic circuits, machine language, processor organization, memory management, processes and concurrency, file systems. Throughout, special attention is paid to abstraction, performance, and other quality requirements.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 25
Private study hours: 125
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
25% Coursework and 75% Examination

Indicative reading

English, J. (2004). Introduction to Operating Systems. Palgrave Macmillan.
Patterson, D and Hennessy, J. (2013). Computer Organisation and Design, Fifth Edition. Morgan Kaufman
Nisan, N and Schocken, S. (2005) The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles. MIT Press
Scott, J.C. (2009) But How Do It Know? - The Basic Principles of Computers for Everyone. John C. Scott

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the hardware and software components of a typical computer system, and of how they interact.
2. Demonstrate originality in applying the principles of abstraction and layering for building complex systems.
3. Identify the interfaces of abstraction layers and be able to select an appropriate layer on which to build useful systems.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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