Module ICL-1002:
Computer Systems

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Overall aims and purpose

This module will enable learners to develop a sound understanding of the essential hardware and software components of a computer system, using the PC architecture exemplar.

Through a range of practical and research exercises the respective roles of hardware and software plus their interaction are explored.

Course content

Indicative content includes:

  • Hardware
  • Overview of computer systems: identification, purpose and functionality of key components and computer architecture
  • Memory concept and functionality, types of and protected and virtual aspects
  • Data representation, in memory, numbering systems and consideration of data transfer rates
  • Overview, identification and functionality of key types of I/O to include peripherals
  • Overview of connectivity to include internal buses (PCI), external buses (USB) and networking (ADSL, Ethernet etc.)

  • Operating Systems

  • Overview of operating systems: identification, purpose and functionality of key components within a modern operating systems and the use of Microsoft OS and Linux as exemplars.
  • Resource Management and concept of sharing
  • Device Management to include device drivers, dumb and smart peripherals
  • Memory Management including virtual memory and addressing
  • File Management for local and remote files

Assessment Criteria


Equivalent to the range 60%-69%. Is able to analyse a task or problem to decide which aspects of theory and knowledge to apply. Solutions are of a workable quality, demonstrating understanding of underlying principles. Major themes can be linked appropriately but may not be able to extend this to individual aspects. Outputs are readily understood, with an appropriate structure but may lack sophistication.


Equivalent to 40%. Uses key areas of theory or knowledge to meet the Learning Outcomes of the module. Is able to formulate an appropriate solution to accurately solve tasks and questions. Can identify individual aspects, but lacks an awareness of links between them and the wider contexts. Outputs can be understood, but lack structure and/or coherence.


Equivalent to the range 70%+. Assemble critically evaluated, relevent areas of knowledge and theory to constuct professional-level solutions to tasks and questions presented. Is able to cross-link themes and aspects to draw considered conclusions. Presents outputs in a cohesive, accurate, and efficient manner.

Learning outcomes

  1. Describe key principles and concepts of Computer Systems.

  2. Identify and summarise hardware architectures.

  3. Analyse how elements of a system meet system or user requirements.

  4. Recognise critical functionality of an operating system and its architecture.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Unseen Examination

Individual time-constrained (2 hours) closed book class test to ascertain understanding gained.

LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Practical Exercise Portfolio

Individual portfolio of 6 equally weighted exercises, demonstrating a range of skills, knowledge and understanding across all learning outcomes, within a workplace context (or simulation).


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Classroom-based learning covering both practicals and lectures.

Private study

Tutor-directed private study, including asessments and revision.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Knowledge and understanding of facts, concepts, principles & theories
  • Use of such knowledge in modelling and design
  • Problem solving strategies
  • Analyse if/how a system meets current and future requirements
  • Deploy theory in design, implementation and evaluation of systems
  • Specify, design or construct computer-based systems
  • Evaluate systems in terms of quality and trade-offs
  • Knowledge of systems architecture
  • Defining problems, managing design process and evaluating outcomes
  • System Design
  • Knowledge and/or understanding of appropriate scientific and engineering principles
  • Principles of appropriate supporting engineering and scientific disciplines


Reading list

Clements, A., 2006. Principles of Computer Hardware . Oxford University Press.

Englander, I., 2014. The Architecture of Computer Hardware, Systems Software & Networking: An information technology Approach . Wiley.

Galvin, P & Gagne, G & Silberschatz, A., 2012. Operating System Concepts. 9 th Ed. International Student Version.

Hennessey, J & Patterson, D., 2013. Computer Organisation and Design: The Hardware / Software Interface , Morgan Kauffman Series.

Courses including this module