FUNDAMENTALS OF COMPUTER SYSTEMS

SHE Level 1
SCQF Credit Points 10.00
ECTS Credit Points 5.00
Module Code M1I325893
Module Leader n/a
School School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment
Subject Computing
Trimester
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

n/a

Summary of Content

This module introduces students to the fundamental aspects of computer systems: architectures; applications; and data. The content will include an examination of computer systems from the very small (bits and bytes), through data representation (binary), to instruction sets, the fetch and execute cycle and computer memory organisation. The module will also include working with an operating system using a command line, and controlling a computer using assembly language. Additional hardware topics such as peripherals and embedded systems will be introduced. Students will gain practical experience in the investigation of computer systems and architecture through a programme of laboratory work and tutorial study. The percentage of Work Based Learning for this module, as represented by the proportion of the Activity Types which take place off campus, is approximately 80%. The percentage of Work Based Assessment for this module is around 20%.

Syllabus

-360b7 Data representation and manipulation; binary, hexadecimal, floating point number representation and negative numbers b7 The architectural building blocks of a simple CPU including registers, ALU, control unit and data-paths. b7 The fundamentals of instruction fetch, interpretation and execution. b7 Introduction to assembly language: vs machine language, derivation of control steps for assembly instructions b7 How a program works and how it is stored on hard disc, high level languages, compiling a program, bootstrap process. b7 Operating systems, software and applications: Linux, command line and basic scripting. b7 File systems and directories: Mapping files onto disc blocks, file structures and their advantages and disadvantages. b7 Systems organization including distributed-systems, parallel and multi-core techniques. b7 Organisation and performance of the memory/storage hierarchy. This overview ranges from CPU-based memory technology through to network-attached storage technologies. b7 Overview of hardware elements: embedded systems, peripherals b7 Client/Server architectures, N-Tier architectures

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1 - Describe the key components of computer system hardware, operating system and software architectures used to provide computer system functionality2 - Explain how data is represented and manipulated by a CPU instruction set within a computer system.3 - Explain low level control of hardware by assembly language 4 - Demonstrate the use of command line input to an operating system and create a short script.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Learning and teaching will take place through a variety of mechanisms, including lectures and practical sessions, research into current developments and issues. Topics will be introduced in lectures and discussed through guided inquiry learning activities. A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will also be used that will provide access to a range of relevant learning resources and materials to enhance the teaching strategy. Managed blended learning environments will be used to consider material and provide the capability for reflection on material related to learning outcomes. The subject discipline is continuously developing, evolving and changing and as a result students will be expected to keep up to date with developments through independent research. Students will be encouraged to adopt an independent learning style, acquiring and applying knowledge through their own research and enquiry, supported by a series of guided activities and exercises. Work based Education aims to maximise the direct and digitally mediated contact time with students by practicing teaching and learning strategies that use authentic work based scenarios and encourage action learning, enquiry based learning, problem based learning and peer learning. All these approaches aim to directly involve the students in the process of learning and to encourage sharing of learning between students. The module team will determine the level and accuracy of knowledge acquisition at key points in the delivery, inputting when necessary either directly or with the support of external experts who will add to the authenticity, the credibility and application of the education and learning in the workplace.

Indicative Reading

-567 Brookshear, J G, Computer Science: An overview, Prentice hall, April 2014, ISBN-10: 0133760065 ISBN- 13: 9780133760064 Reed, D Balanced Introduction to Computer Science, Pearson, Nov 2010, ISBN-10: 0132594447 ISBN-13: 9780132594448 Shotts, W.E. The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction, No Starch Press, Jan 2012, ISBN 978-1593273897 Brands,G. Introduction to Computer Science: A textbook for Beginners in Informatics, CreateSpace, Oct 2013, ISBN 978-1492827849

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: Specialist knowledge and application Critical thinking and problem solving Critical analysis Communication skills, written, oral and listening Numeracy Creativity, innovation and independent thinking. Appreciating and desiring the need for continuous professional development Ability to prioritise tasks and time management Gain additional industry focussed competence in the application of the knowledge and practical skills obtained on this programme.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Practicals (FT) 12.00
Tutorials (FT) 6.00
Independent Learning (FT) 60.00
Assessment (FT) 10.00
Lectures (FT) 12.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 50.00 35% Practical project
Coursework 2 1.00 50.00 35% Class Test