Module Identifier CS10110  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Mark B Ratcliffe  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Neal Snooke  
Mutually Exclusive A level computer science or equivalent.  
Course delivery Lecture   22 lectures  
  Practical   10 x 2 hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours  100%
Supplementary Exam Will take the same form, under the terms of the Department's policy   
Further details  

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students will:

Brief description

This module gives students a broader understanding of the infrastructure of a typical computer. It addresses basic issues in hardware and operating systems.

The module is provided as an option for all Computer Science students but is also available as a service course.


The aim of this module is to give students a broad exposure to the PC environment. Until recent years the PC was not an environment in which serious software engineering was practiced. The situation has now changed and this module addresses the new importance of the PC in the industrial and commercial workplace.
Tracking recent industry trends, the module will use examples from both Microsoft operating systems and Linux to illustrate the concepts that it presents. The students will gain practical skills associated with using both environments.


1. Computers as tools in the workplace - 2 Lectures
Typical applications: word-processing, accounting, game-playing. Typical requirements of each: memory usage, cpu-time, disk-space. Interaction through the OS and its interface components. Operating-system: definition and trivial examples of functionality. Everything is a program. Overview of the course: peeling off some layers starting at the interface.

2. Windows and command line user interfaces - 2 Practicals
Introduction to the user interface facilities of both Microsoft Windows and Linux.

3. User interfaces and the OS - 7 Lectures
Components of Win95/NT and Linux, windows, files, start-menu, the mouse-pointer. Where windows come from. Command line environments and scripting languages. The idea of a system call, and the idea of the OS providing services. Events and event-handling; the mouse and clicking as examples. The start-menu as a part of the OS, its control by events and event-handlers. Storage of programs as files: including the OS and its components; examples such as the registry, DLLs, controls etc. DLLs, VBXs and other forms of shared loadable libraries: examples, the fact that you can write your own.

4. Filestore management - 2 Practicals
Introduction to the filesystems of both Microsoft Windows and Linux.

5. Learning support - 1 Practical
On-line self multiple choice questionnaire to assist in self assessment of progress.

6. Under the bonnet of the interface: files and processes (tasks). - 6 Lectures
What files are. Conceptually linear stream of data. Reading and writing of files as services provided by the OS. Permissions and file-protection. Creation, deletion and the trash-can. File recovery. What is a process. Relationships of files, programs and processes. The OS and its components as processes. Task Manager / schedulers and what they allow you to do: spawning and killing processes, the idea of interruption.

7. Process, task and application management - 2 Practicals
Practical use of the facilities of Microsoft Windows and Linux to support process, task and application management.

8. Inside the engine: physical file storage, scheduling, memory management - 5 Lectures
Disks, sectors and tracks. How files are organised. Fragmentation and "DEFRAG.EXE". Memory management. Allocation and deallocation of memory as a service provided by the OS. Fragmentation of memory. Swap-files and using disk as "extra memory": differences between disk and memory. Scheduling of processes, multithreading. Difficulties (deadlock etc.), priorities, memory contexts and swapping. Multi-processor machines.

9. Advanced use of scripting and utility programs - 2 Practicals
Practical sophisticated use of scripting (batch files and shell scripts) and utility programs on Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.

10. Revision - 2 Lectures

11. Learning support - 1 Practical
On-line self multiple choice questionnaire to assist in self assessment and to provide the students with a basis for their personal revision activities.

Reading Lists

Web Page/Sites
** Consult For Futher Information
Extensive reference will also be made to World Wide Web resources, the addresses of which will be provided during the course.

L. Long and N Long Computers 7th. Prentice Hall ISBN 0130831905
P. Norton Inside the PC 7th. Prentice Hall ISBN 0672310414
Irv Englander Architecture of Computer Hardware and Systems Software: An IT Approach 2nd. ISBN 0471362093


This module is at CQFW Level 4