Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Computer Science


Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2007/08
Tied to


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • An understanding of the basic principles of distributed systems provides a foundation for understanding modern distributed systems technologies in this and other modules.


  • Technologies: RMI, CORBA, DCOM
  • Techniques: message passing, remote procedure call, client-server, shared file systems, distributed objects, distributed shared memory, process groups, distributed transactions
  • Distributed algorithms: consensus and election, termination detection, fault tolerance, load balancing, threading, concurrency control
  • Distributed file systems and operating systems. Heterogenous systems. Apache
  • Advanced XML
  • Scripting; PHP
  • Overview of fine-grain distributed systems - neural networks, cellular automata, parallel processing

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Specialist knowledge: technologies, techniques and algorithms
  • Practical design skills: CORBA, selection of paradigm, XML, building a distributed system, PHP, Apache
  • Management: the module project and lab assignments
  • Design integration: building distributed systems from more than one technology e.g. PHP/XML/SQL
  • The engineering of software systems: emphasis on rapid application development and related approaches to requirements analysis
  • Professional skills: module assignments reports, to include documentation standards (and tools) appropriate to the technologies
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

      Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

      • The module comprises 1 week's intensive directed reading and laboratory exercises; 5 days of lectures, tutorials, and reading and two weeks undertaking a major assignment. The overall workload conforms to the standard SLAT requirement of 150 hours equivalent to 15 credits.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Lectures 20 4 per day in week 2 1 hour 20
      Tutorials 4 weekly 1 hour 4
      Practical 5 daily in week 1 6 hours 30
      Laboratory 10 daily in weeks 3,4 6 hours 60
      Preparation and Reading 36
      Total 150

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Laboratory report Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Laboratory report 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      Staged written feedback of laboratory and practical work by staff/demonstrators.

      Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University