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COMP19512: Introduction to Computer Systems (2010-2011)

This is an archived syllabus from 2010-2011

Introduction to Computer Systems
Level: 1
Credit rating: 10
Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisites
Co-requisites: No Co-requisites
Lectures: For full information Link to additional information: Blackboard select: COMP17022 Introduction to Computer Systems @
Lecturers: Richard Neville
Course lecturer: Richard Neville

Additional staff: view all staff
Sem 2 Lecture LF15 Thu 09:00 - 11:00 -
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.

Programme outcomeUnit learning outcomesAssessment
Fundamentals of computer systems.
The representation of data.
An introduction to processors and memory.
Input and Output.
Operating Systems and System Software.
An introduction to elements of computer architecture.

Academic knowledge

Understand how the basic 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 basic aspects of computer system performance.
Apply arithmetic and logical operations to scalar data types.

Subject practical skills

Develop very basic 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: Conversion: Converting between number systems in a computer system;
4: Binary Arithmetic: Addition and Subtraction with signed and unsigned integers.
5: A Simple Computer System (1): Introduction to the Little Man Computer;
6: A Simple Computer System (2): Little Man Computer (Basic Instructions and simple program(s)).
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.

Reading List

[COA] Computer Organisation and Architecture: An Introduction (B.S. Chalk, Antony Carter and Robert Hind)
aux. info. from author available [on line] @

[SCO] Structured Computer Organization (A. S. Tanenbaum) (any edition)
aux. info. from author available [on line] @

[COA2] Computer Organization and Architecture (William Stallings) (Fifth Edition)
aux. info. from author available [on line] @

Computer Science: an Overview (J. G. Brookshear) (6th Edition)
aux. info. from author available [on line] @

For full information Link to additional information:
Blackboard select:
COMP17022 Introduction to Computer Systems