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This is an archived syllabus from 2020-2021

COMP28112 Distributed Systems syllabus 2020-2021

COMP28112 Distributed Systems

Level 2
Credits: 10
Enrolled students: 207

Course leader: Sandra Sampaio

Additional staff: view all staff


  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP16412
  • Pre-Requisite (Compulsory): COMP15212

Additional requirements

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

Assessment methods

  • 100% Practical skills assessment
Sem 2 ONLINE ACTIVITY Thu 13:00 - 14:00 -
Sem 2 B ONLINE LabORATORY Fri 11:00 - 13:00 F
Sem 2 B ONLINE LabORATORY Mon 14:00 - 16:00 G
Sem 2 B ONLINE LabORATORY Mon 16:00 - 18:00 H
Themes to which this unit belongs
  • Web and Distributed Systems


The course unit assumes that students already have a solid understanding of the main principles of computing within a single machine, have a basic understanding of the issues related to machine communication and networking, and have a notion of what distributed computing is. The syllabus will contain topics covering the fundamentals of distributed computing, its application in modern systems and issues to be considered when designing distributed systems.  

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.


To provide students with the awareness of the impact and benefits of distributed computing in their everyday interaction with modern computer technology, as well as knowledge of the fundamentals of distributed computing, and understanding of essential techniques and methods, to equip students with basic skills to further explore more advanced course units that require knowledge of distributed computing.



Revision of the characteristics of distributed systems. Challenges. Architectural models.

Remote Invocation and Distributed Objects

Java RMI, CORBA, Web Services.

Message-Oriented middleware

Synchronous vs asynchronous messaging. Point-to-point messaging. Publish-subscribe.

Concurrency, co-ordination and distributed transactions

Ordering of events. Two-phase commit protocol. Consensus.

Caching and Replication


Service-Oriented Architectures, REST and Web Services

Teaching methods


22 in total, 2 per week


10 hours in total, 5 2-hour sessions

Feedback methods

Formative feedback based on assessment of different solutions to problems relevant to the module or area of weakness from previous years. Feedback is also provided by demonstrators in the laboratory.

Study hours

  • Assessment written exam (2 hours)
  • Lectures (24 hours)
  • Practical classes & workshops (12 hours)

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Problem solving

Learning outcomes

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

  • Have acquired knowledge and understanding of the main principles, techniques and methods supporting the basic functionality of distributed systems.
  • Have developed the ability to identify applications where distributed computing is used and its impact on society.
  • Have acquired knowledge and understanding of main issues to be considered when designing a distributed system.
  • Have developed the ability to understand how the main principles, techniques and methods supporting distributed computing are applied in practice in existing systems.
  • Have developed the ability to design and implement prototypical distributed computing applications using available technologies.

Reading list

Distributed systems : concepts and design Coulouris, George F., author.9781447930174Pearson Education Limited2012
Distributed systems Steen, Maarten van, author.9781543057386Maarten van Steen2017

Additional notes

Course unit materials

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