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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

COMP1860 Building our Digital World: Computer Systems & Architecture

40 creditsClass Size: 350

Module manager: Prof Andy Bulpitt

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25


COMP1870Theoretical Foundations of Computer Science I

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

A computer system is a combination of hardware and software components that work together to process data, perform tasks, and execute programs. This module introduces the foundations and intricacies of computer systems, covering fundamental aspects such as hardware architecture, networking principles and operating systems. This module forms part of the core of the Computer Science curriculum.This module provides a comprehensive understanding of how computers function at both the hardware and software levels. Through theoretical concepts and practical applications, students develop proficiency in assembling and troubleshooting computer systems. Furthermore, the module introduces key networking principles, enabling students to comprehend data transmission and connectivity. The module introduces computer system design from an engineering viewpoint exploring topics of security, reliability and general performance.


By the end of this module, students will be able to understand the foundational principles of computer systems, including hardware architecture, software components, and networking principles. They will demonstrate proficiency in assembling and troubleshooting computer systems, applying theoretical concepts to practical scenarios. Additionally, students will analyse key considerations such as security, reliability, and performance, enabling them to design and evaluate robust computer systems from an engineering perspective.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module a student will have demonstrated the ability to:
1. describe and apply subject specific knowledge and engineering design principles to design and implement computer systems considering well specified requirements (C1, M1, C2, M2, C5, M5, C6, M6)
2. use appropriately selected tools to design, test, analyse and evaluate computer systems and identify limitations (C12, M12, C13, M13)
3. select and interpret sources of information to solve complex real-world problems. (C4, M4)
4. identify and interpret risk concerning security and plan a mitigation approach (C10, M10)
5. identify and analyse ethical concerns when designing and implementing computer systems and make reasoned decisions informed by ethical frameworks and codes of conduct. (C8, M8)
6. effectively communicate complex topics concerning computer systems to technical and non-technical audiences. (C17, M17)
7. reflect on their level of mastery of subject knowledge and skills and plan for personal development. (C18, M18)

Skills Learning Outcomes
a) Technical,
b) Communication,
c) Teamwork,
d) Time management,
e) Problem solving,
f) Active learning,
g) Reflection,
h) Critical thinking,
g) Ethics.


• Designing and implementing computer systems
- Overview of Computing systems (including a brief history)
- Digital Systems
- Data representations
- Architecture
- Assembly level machine organisation
• Interfacing and interaction
- Common development platforms and their typical characteristics
- Input/Output fundamentals
- Interactive systems
- Organisation of networks
• Modern architectures
- Advanced architectural concepts; pipelining, scaling, caching, multi-core
- Security
- Heterogeneous architectures
• Operating system principles
• Performance, Security & Evaluation of systems
- System design (including requirements)
- Defining, measuring and evaluating performance metrics
- Fundamental security consideration

Methods of Assessment

We are currently refreshing our modules to make sure students have the best possible experience. Full assessment details for this module are not available before the start of the academic year, at which time details of the assessment(s) will be provided.

Assessment for this module will consist of:

1 x Coursework
1 x Exam

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have an opportunity for continuous feedback on all components of the portfolio via tutorials, personal tutorials and via additional support activities. Students will have regular portfolio checkpoints to ensure students are progressing towards the assessment objectives.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 09/05/2024


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