Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Introduction to Computer Infrastructure
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Worksheet sign off  up to 10 practical worksheets completed in practicals and own time.  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Multiple choice on-line exam  (QMP)  70%
Supplementary Assessment Practical Assignment  equivalent to worksheet signoff  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Multiple choice On-line exam  70%

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, compare alternatives and select the most appropriate ones for particular tasks.

Use facilities provided by common operating systems for users and programmers.

Solve simple problems using the facilities available to script programmers in the UNIX environment by bringing together various utility programs.

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

Describe how programs are compiled and 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, operating systems and networks, and focuses on commonly available desktop personal computer systems.


1. User Interfaces and Operating Systems
Overview of operating systems, desktop environments and window managers. Graphic user interfaces and operating system services. Use of command line interface: Shells, filestore & file manipulation, pipes, environment, editors.

2. Computer Hardware and Software components
Hardware fundamentals: Components of a typical personal computer and how they interact.
Hardware and software support for multi-tasking, processes and threads.

3. Data Organisation and Storage
Data and disks: Magnetic, flash and optical. Addressing. Errors and checksums.
Files and filesystems: File storage and operations. Filesystem structures.
Memory: Types of memory. Memory allocation, safety and fragmentation. Virtual memory. Segmentation, paging and swapping.

4. Digital Building Blocks
Number bases: decimal, binary, hex, octal. Example calculations.
Digital logic: Bit representation, logic functions, simple combinatorial logic, logic gates & symbols.
The CPU: Internal operations. Machine code & instruction set. Registers. A simple CPU. Assembler language.
Compilers and linkers: How source code becomes an executable program.

5. Unix Tools and Shell Scripting
Command line tools. Regular expressions and grep.
Commands and processes. Variable and command substitution. Writing shell scripts.

6. Internet Technology and Infrastructure
History of the Internet: Origin, evolution and growth. Internet applications.
Internet protocols: Packet switched networks. Internet protocol (IP): Addresses, networks & hosts. Packet structure. TCP, UDP and link-level protocols. Packet routing. DNS and DHCP.
Internet Governance: Who controls what. Future of the Internet and IPv6.

Additional lectures may be used for guest lecturers or review and revision classes.
In addition to the lectures, there are up to 10 (but usually 8) assessed practical sessions. These give students a chance to practice skills and knowledge gained from the lectures.

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.


This module is at CQFW Level 4