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COMP20081: Computer Networks (2009-2010)

This is an archived syllabus from 2009-2010

Computer Networks
Level: 2
Credit rating: 10
Pre-requisites: COMP10031 or EEEN10026 or MATH10111
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Duration: 11 weeks in first semester
Lectures: 17 in total, 3 per fortnight
Examples classes: 5 in total, 1 per fortnight (most Moodle-based)
Labs: 10 hours in total, 5 2-hour sessions
Lecturers: Andy Carpenter, Nick Filer
Course lecturers: Andy Carpenter

Nick Filer

Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 1 w1-5,7-12 Lecture 1.1 Thu 16:00 - 17:00 -
Sem 1 w1,3,5,8,10,12 Lecture 1.1 Wed 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 w2,4,7,9,11 Lab G23 Fri 09:00 - 11:00 H
Sem 1 w2,4,7,9,11 Lab G23 Thu 09:00 - 11:00 F
Sem 1 w2,4,7,9,11 Examples G23 Wed 11:00 - 12:00 F+I
Sem 1 w2,4,7,9,11 Lab G23 Fri 11:00 - 13:00 I
Sem 1 w2,4,7,9,11 Examples G23 Wed 12:00 - 13:00 G+H
Sem 1 w2,4,7,9,11 Lab G23 Mon 13:00 - 15:00 G
Assessment Breakdown
Exam: 70%
Coursework: 0%
Lab: 30%
Degrees for which this unit is optional
  • Artificial Intelligence BSc (Hons)


In today?s connected world, phones, PDAs, computers, .. all share information. In reality, it?s the applications running on these devices, e.g. picture messaging and e-Commerce, that share the information. This course unit examines the principles involved in making this sharing possible, efficient and secure. In particular, it looks at how networking can mask many of the imperfections of interconnection technologies from applications; allow applications to share communication mediums; and potentially give Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees to applications. At the end of the unit you?ll appreciate how different applications can place different demands on the interconnection infrastructure and conversely how technology can limit the types of application that can be run.


This course unit aims to build on the ideas gained in the first year course unit Fundamentals of Distributed Systems. It aims to provide students with an understanding of the techniques that networking protocols use to achieve error detection and recovery, multiplexing and security protection. To also seeks to show students how the limitations of communication media can limit what applications can achieve. Equipment with the skills needed to go out and setup networks in small and medium sized organisations.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit you will:

Understand the characteristics and applications of various networking technologies. (A)
Understand how a collection of communication protocols co-operate and communicate to achieve the overall communication function. (A)
Have a working knowledge of at least one protocol at each of the main levels of the OSI seven layer reference model. (A)
Carry out network designs using appropriate hardware and software components to provide specified services for a given site. (B)
Be able to calculate message delays and throughput for a given application. (B)
Be able to specify the implementation of a simple protocol. (C)
Understand packet forwarding and the role of routing protocols. (A)
Understand error detection and recovery mechanisms. (A)
Understand how features such as flow control and quality of service are achieved. (A)
For given scenarios, demonstrate an understanding of 6, 7 and 8. (B)
Appreciate how internetworking demands changes in the operation of basic techniques. (A)
Be able to design and implement a program that allows client-server file transfer. (C)

Assessment of Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 are assessed by examination Learning outcomes 6 and 12 are assessed in the laboratory.

Contribution to Programme Learning Outcomes

A3, B1, C5, C6, D4, D5.



network elements, network structures, protocols, service models, encapsulation, sharing, performance measures


networking elements of an application (multiple protocols, clients, servers, meaning of data, data encoding), styles of protocols, relationship of control and data, distributing information, caching


attacks, authentication, confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation, encryption/decryption, keys, key distribution, digital certificates, implementing secure systems (IPSEC, TLS), firewalls

Multimedia networks

IP multimedia, VoIP, streaming and buffering, jitter, multimedia error recovery, RTP, content distribution networks, peer-to-peer, bit torrent, multimedia QoS

Inter-process communication

service models, reliability (acknowledgements, retransmission, variable timeouts), flow control, congestion control, RPC, discovery (port mappers)

Host-to-host communication

forwarding, mapping to physical networks (address, fragmentation), address managment (sub-netting, cidr)

Node-to-node communication

error detection (parity, crc), framing, bit encoding, wireless transmissions


relationship mobile phones and data communications

Reading List

Core Text
Title: Computer networks: a systems approach (5th edition)
Author: Peterson, Larry L. and Bruce S. Davie
ISBN: 9780123850591
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Edition: 5th
Year: 20011
A book book for explaining the issues that must be addressed/solved by each part of the network protocol stack.

Title: Computer networking: a top-down approach (6th edition)
Author: Kurose, James and Keith Ross
ISBN: 9780273768968
Publisher: Pearson Education
Edition: 6th
Year: 2013
The structure of this text is similar to that used in the lectures.