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COMP17021: Introduction to Computer Systems (2007-2008)

This is an archived syllabus from 2007-2008

Introduction to Computer Systems
Level: 1
Credit rating: 10
Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisites
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Lectures: For full information see URL:
Lecturers: Richard Neville
Course lecturer: Richard Neville

Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 1 w1-5,7-12 Lecture SCH BRAGG Thu 15:00 - 17:00 -
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 80%
Coursework: 20%
Lab: 0%


The module introduces the concepts involved in Introduction to Computer Systems. Its aim is to enable the student to develop the skills required to comprehend Introduction to Computer Systems, be they terminology, models, methodologies, structures (or topologies), timing, number representation and a general introduction to basic computer systems.
This unit builds on the skills developed in your background, covering material that will enable students to comprehend basic computer architecture structures and topologies. In particular, students will be able to comprehend the basic of computer systems.


This course unit introduces the hardware and software architecture of computer systems. The main aim of the course unit is to provide students with basic information about program execution, system software and communications in order to provide a suitable background for course units that focus on the development of software. The course unit also aims to foster an interest in computer architecture and system software that will allow students to make informed decisions about the specification of such systems.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module the student should be able to comprehend the following theoretical concepts:
? Fundamentals of computer systems
? The representation of data
? An introduction to processors and memory
? Input and Output
? Operating Systems and System Software
? Networks
? An introduction to elements of computer architecture

Assessment of Learning outcomes

The Degree level INFO1003 Introduction to Computer Systems module assessments are 80% exam & 20% coursework.

Academic knowledge

Understand how the data types of High Level Languages are stored and processed by Computer Systems.
Identify the basic components of a computer system and understand their functionality and relationships.
Understand the function and basic organisation of operating systems and the system software used in software development (compilers, assemblers, etc.).
Explain the basic mechanisms involved in computer networking and communication.
Comment on selected design issues in modern computer systems.

Intellectual skills

Apply quantitative approaches to the evaluation of some aspects of computer system performance.
Apply arithmetic and logical operations to scalar data types.

Subject practical skills

Develop programs in assembly language for a simple processor.


1: Introduction: Some Basic Definitions;
2: Representation of integers in a computer system: Bits, Bytes and Integers.
3: Binary Arithmetic (1): Addition and Subtraction with signed and unsigned integers;
4: Binary Arithmetic (2): Binary Multiplication and Division; Fixed Point Representation; & Hexadecimal Representation.
5: A Simple Computer System (1): Introduction to the Little Man Computer;
6: A Simple Computer System (2): Little Man Computer (Conditional instructions and jumps).
7: Memory (1): The Processor?s relationship with Primary Memory;
8: Memory (2): Types of Primary Memory.
9: Secondary Memory: The memory hierarchy; & Disks;
10: Input/Output: Controlling Input and Output.
11: Operating Systems (1): Overview; Components; & Processes;
12: Operating Systems (2): Processes cont...
13: Networks (1): Physical Communication; Data Transmission Protocols; & Network Topologies;
14: Networks (2): LAN Protocols; WANs; The Internet; & Protocol Layers.

Computer networking and communications (Data transfer protocols and media, with material relevant to the Internet).
Advanced topics.
Pipelining and superscalar architecture, caches, virtual memory.

Reading List

For full information see URL:

Title: Computer Science
Author: J. G. Brookshear,
Publisher: 6th Edition, Addison-Wesley, (Chapters 1 & 3 only)
Year: 2000

Title: Computer systems architecture: a networking approach
Author: Williams, Rob
ISBN: 0201648598
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Year: 2001

Title: Architecture of Computer Hardware and Systems Software,
Author: I. Englander,
Publisher: 3rd Edition, Wiley, (Note I have some doubts as to the current availability of this book)
Year: 2003