Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Introduction to Computer Infrastructure
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 5 x 1 Hour Seminars
Lecture 10 x 1 Hour Lectures
Practical 10 x 1 Hour Practicals


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Multiple choice On-line exam  70%
Semester Assessment Worksheet sign off:  11 practical worksheets completed in practicals and own time.  30%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary Assessment  Students must resit failed examination and/or resubmission of failed/non-submitted coursework components or ones of equivalent value.  Students must resit failed examination and/or resubmission of failed/non-submitted coursework components or ones of equivalent value.  70%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Supplementary Exam  Students must resit failed examination and/or resubmission of failed/non-submitted element  30%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Describe the major hardware components of a computer system and its peripherals (from chips and logic gates upwards).

Demonstrate their understanding of the types of function and facilities provided by Microsoft and UNIX operating systems for users and programmers.

Demonstrate a practical understanding of the facilities available to script programmers using the UNIX environment, by bringing together various utility programs to solve a problem.

Describe fundamental issues, concepts, and challenges associated with operating systems.

Describe how low level programs are executed by the CPU.

Describe the history and evolution of modern computer-based communications systems.

Describe the technical basis of the Internet, its addressing, naming and core protocols.

Brief description

This module gives students a broad understanding of the infrastructure of a personal computer. It addresses basic issues in hardware and operating systems and focuses on commonly available desktop personal computer systems.


1. Elements of a personal computer system – 4 Lectures
Fundamental resources of a personal computer system. Architectural Block Diagram. Interaction through the OS and its interface components. Operating-system: definition and trivial examples of functionality. The Onion Skin Model as a simple view. Everything is a program. The idea of a system call, and the idea of the OS providing services.

2. Basic facilities of MS Windows and Unix operating Systems – Practical 1.
Introduction to the user interface facilities in both Microsoft Windows and Linux.
3. User interfaces and the OS – 6 Lectures
GUI and command line environments. X-windows and networked environments, UNIX tools: simple patterns matching and use of grep, sed, awk, introduction to BASH scripting.

4. Filestore, process and task management – 3 Practicals
Introducton to the filesystems and process control facilities of both Microsoft Windows and Unix.

5. Major operating system functionality, files, processes (tasks) and memory management – 5 Lectures
What files are. Reading and writing of files as services provided by the OS. Permissions and file-protection. The trash-can and file recovery. Physical file storage concepts. What is a process? Relationships of files, programs and processes. The OS and its components as processes. Schedulers and what they allow you to do. Multi-threading. Concept of memory contexts and swapping. Difficulties (deadlock concept etc). The idea of interruption. Memory management. Swap-files and usng disk as “extra memory”. Allocation and deallocation of memory as a service provided by the OS. Fragmentation of memory.

6. Unix tools and bash scripting and regular expressions – 6 Practicals
Working efficiently: practical use of the facilities Unix to support common application, computing, administration, and maintenance tasks. When to use script rather than a mouse.

7. Storage Devices and peripherals – 3 Lectures
Magnetic, Optical, and solid state storage technologies (e.g. DVD and memory sticks): Disks, sectors and tracks. Fragmentation: differences between disk and memory.

8. Introduction to the basic building blocks – 5 Lectures
Binary numbers. Introduction to logic (AND/OR/NOT). Memory. Bus. CPU functions.

9. Inside the CPU – 2 Lectures
The control unit, the ALU, registers. Implementing machine code in hardware. Simple examples of instructions. The fetch-executive cycle and the programme counter.

10. Historical Basis for the Internet – 2 Lectures
History of the World Telephone network. History of the Computer. History of the Internet.

11. Basic Technology of the Internet – 3 Lecturers
Internet protocols, Internet Addressing and Naming, some aspects of the Future for the Internet.

12. Computer Configuration for Internet connectivity – 1 Practical
Interace configurations, routing tables, common protocols, diagnostic software.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Inherent in the topic.
Communication Written skills needed for practicals.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students
Information Technology Inherent in the topic.
Personal Development and Career planning Will feed into students future career plans.
Problem solving Worksheets assess this.
Research skills Assessing techniques for use in the programming assignments requires reading and other materials.
Subject Specific Skills Computer hardware understanding.
Team work None


This module is at CQFW Level 4