Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Computer Science


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module aims to give students an appreciation and understanding of the way in which modern computer systems (comprising both hardware and software) can effectively represent, transport and manipulate data.


  • Digital electronics: Transistors; Logic gates; Combinational and sequential circuits.
  • Computer architecture: Processor architectures; Memory systems; Input-output mechanisms.
  • Operating systems.
  • Databases: Design and query of relational databases, in addition to normalisation techniques and aspects of relational algebra.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • an understanding of a computer system's underlying machine architecture
  • an understanding of how a computer works
  • an understanding of the basic theory and design of operating systems
  • an understanding of the principles of good database construction.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • an ability to apply core concepts in the design and construction of complex computer systems
  • an ability to reason about computer systems and their performance
  • an ability to recognise performance problems in practical systems
  • an ability to apply core concepts in the design, construction and manipulation of relational databases.
Key Skills:
  • an ability to communicate technical information in a scientific fashion
  • an ability to confidently use general IT tools (such as editors, file management tools, printing tools and so on).

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

  • Lectures provide the students with a mechanism by which to learn the theory behind the core topics within the module.
  • Practical classes support the lectures by enabling the application and appreciation of the theory.
  • Summative assignments encourage and guide further independent study and assess practical aspects of computer systems.
  • Summative examinations test the knowledge acquired and the students' ability to use this knowledge to solve new problems.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
lectures 44 2 per week 1 hour 44
practical classes 22 1 per week 2 hours 44
preparation and reading 112
total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Exmaination Component Weighting: 66%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100% Yes
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 34%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical work 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Example formative exercises are given during the course. Additional revison lectures may be arranged in the module's lecture slots in the 3rd term.

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