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This is an archived syllabus from 2019-2020

COMP25111 Operating Systems syllabus 2019-2020

COMP25111 Operating Systems

Level 2
Credits: 10
Enrolled students: 219

Course leader: Jim Garside

Additional staff: view all staff


  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP16121
  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP16212

Additional requirements

  • Students who are not from the School of Computer Science must have permission from both Computer Science and their home School to enrol.

Assessment methods

  • 90% Written exam
  • 10% Practical skills assessment
Sem 1 Lecture Schuster RUTHERFORD TH Tue 11:00 - 12:00 -
Sem 1 Lecture Hum Bridge St CORDINGLEY TH Mon 14:00 - 15:00 -
Sem 1 w2+ Lab Tootill (0 + 1) Wed 09:00 - 10:00 F
Sem 1 w2+ Lab 1.8 Tue 12:00 - 13:00 H
Sem 1 w2+ Lab 1.8 Fri 14:00 - 15:00 G
Sem 1 w2+ Lab 1.8 Mon 15:00 - 16:00 I
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Computer Architecture


An operating system is typically the 'lowest' layer of software in a computer.  It provides an abstracted interface so that applications can run on diverse hardware without modification and it provides security which prevents misbehaving software from crashing the hardware or disturbing other tasks which may be running simultaneously.

This course unit provides an introduction to the major principles of implementation of an operating system and some experience in how these features may be exploited by the 'higher' software layers. Note that this module is currently undergoing major redevelopment and modernisation and, whilst the principles will not change, some of the details both in the syllabus and teaching methods may differ in the autumn.


This course unit assumes that students are familiar with the idea that their applications programs run on some sort of 'box'. The intention is to peel back another layer to see how the system software - and in a few cases the associated hardware - conspire to run that application safely and securely, despite the hardware itself - processors, memory, filestore etc. - differing from case to case.  It also seeks to illuminate the services a typical operating system provides, some of which will probably be unfamiliar, in a practical way.

To support this material there will also be some revision of (or an introduction to, for a few students) some architectural features and enough material on the C language to enable someone already familiar with (say!) Java to be able to poke around the machine.



  • Overview; abstraction layers; purpose.


  • Basic C programming and pointers
  • Memory map and structure
  • Virtual memory, paging; caches et alia.
  • Processes & threads


  • Protection, priority, real-time constraints
  • Scheduling, context switching

Device management

  • Ownership, protection
  • Polling, Interrupts, DMA

File systems

  • File organisation; types; security

Multiprocessors, hypervisors and future stuff

Teaching methods


22 in total, 2 per week


11 hours in total, 1 hour weekly sessions

Assessment breakdown
Exam:  85%
Mid-term test:  5%
Coursework:  10%

Feedback methods

The intention is to automate as much feedback as possible by providing many small 'exercises' to illuminate the various concepts.  Some exercises may only take a few minutes - at least for those who grasp the concept immediately - others a bit longer but wherever feasible misconceptions will be highlighted immediately and more 'goes' provided.  There is a strong intent to keep the assessment elements as minimal as sensible during the duration of the course. 

Scheduled'laboratories' are intended to support the on-line systems which will be available at all times; they are not for generating marks.

Lectures and other material are intended to guide one sensible path through the various interdependent topics.

Inevitably, there will also be an examination at the end of the semester.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam (2 hours)
  • Lectures (24 hours)
  • Practical classes & workshops (11 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Other

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, a student will be able to:

  • describe the principles underlying typical modern operating systems, including scheduling and other resource allocation, memory management and paging, and filestore management
  • describe differences in strategy in the management policies of the above topics, such as would accommodate portable, desk-top, embedded systems etc.
  • use operating system (particularly Unix-like systems) facilities with familiarity

Reading list

No reading list found for COMP25111.

Additional notes

Course unit materials

Links to course unit teaching materials can be found on the School of Computer Science website for current students.